Friday, April 30, 2010

Dancing Rabbit Designs

{photo borrowed from the Wenham Museum Facebook album}

A painterly tablescape created by Robin Sears
of Dancing Rabbit Designs was displayed at last year’s
North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes

“I believe that good design combines function and beauty and has the power to transform and bring joy.”
-Robin Sears of Dancing Rabbit Designs

Recently my sister and I took a class on how to paint wine glasses held at TaggArt Studio. I made a set of four glasses, one for each of my four sons, marked with their first initials (I imagine serving whip cream-topped desserts in them or something “fancy like water with lemons : ) The hardest part of the artistic process for most of us in the class was coming up with a pattern for the design. While I chose initials, my sister chose a dash and dot pattern, another chose hearts with stripes, and the teacher, Mary, effortlessly combined swirling vines with initials on her set of six. This exercise in creating functional works of art reminded me of one of last year’s participants at the Wenham Museum North Shore Design Show.

Robin Sears of Dancing Rabbit Designs created
this showstopping spring table inspired by nature
and one of her (and my) favorite little creatures ...

A painting Robin did featuring one of her bunnies.
It is titled:
Leaping Josephine

Confectionery colored silk drapery panels serve as a
pretty backdrop to this spring dinner party for six.

Robin specializes in one-of-a-kind custom hand-painted furniture and accessories. She works very closely with her clients to produce works of art with a personal touch. I love how she added cheerful whimsy to this very traditional table and chair set. Her pieces have been featured in magazines including Traditional Home, Victoria, Gourmet and Bon Appetit, and they have been sold through retailers like Horchow and Bloomingdales.

See these and more on Robin’s blog: Dancing Rabbit

I expect there to be lots of visual treats like the above space of Robin’s at this years design show (May 15th through the 22nd). Tickets are $15 in advance or
$20 at the door. Contact the Wenham Museum to
get yours. Look for me there, along with some decorative bunnies of my own!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Room as artist's canvas ...

Michelle Nussbaumer’s work as featured on 1st Dibs,
photograph by Miguel Flores-Vianna

“I see myself as an artist and the client’s home is my canvas and all the furniture, antiques, textiles and artwork are my palette.
– Michelle Nussbaumer

One of the design themes of my space at the upcoming North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces is how decorating a room is just like creating a work of art. Colors, textures and objects combine to paint an emotional picture. A lot of designers feel this way. Take a look at this 1st Dibs interview with Michelle Nussbaumer of Ceylon et Cie where she expresses the same sentiment.
While you are there, check out the impressive list of Style Compass interviews with top designers and trend setters, some of whom I have met in my travels like Iris Apfel, Barclay Butera, Nate Berkus, and Kathryn M. Ireland. Plus there are lots of inspiring stories (with amazing photos!) from other prominent decorative artists, many of whom I would love to meet in the future ... wouldn’t you?!

Monday, April 26, 2010

April vacation is over ...

Eloise Writing Desk from
The Well Appointed House

A sunny and cheerful wardrobe is in order, as I spent a lot of last week prepping and painting, wearing my I-don’t-care-if-this-gets-ruined cast-a-ways while supervising a lot of boy activities. Fortunately, I was able to get a number of items crossed off my to-do-list while still managing to squeeze in a few trips to the park, the circus, the movies, a couple of haircuts, along with sharing time with friends and family. I guess it was a vacation after all ... at times it certainly felt like
a roller coaster ride (and other times like
being stuck in a clown car).

I never get tired of seeing this quote (it is everywhere these days, but was originally designed as a morale boosting poster during World War II). It is a favorite mantra that has served me well, especially
during school vacations : )

Friday, April 23, 2010

Who are you following?

I am looking for some new online inspiration ... if you have a favorite go-to-each-day blog, please leave the URL in my comment section. It does not have to be about decorating and design (although those are my favorites!) as long as it provides inspiring content, pretty pictures, and/or a much needed laugh! Besides favoring design blogs written by fellow New Englanders, I also like to find bloggers out there who have a life I can relate to or learn from. One of my current favorites is Mrs. Blandings by Patricia Shackelford. I wish she lived closer because I would love to sit down and have a chat with her! She always shares humorous insights on her attempts-to-find-pretty while surrounded by three darling boys, a husband and a dog (see cute illustration above by PVE design) She writes like a story teller, and her stories are always interesting. Plus she provides links to many resources and events of interest. I especially liked this last post on the most significant design moments of the last 20 years as determined by her readers.

Inspired by Mrs. Blandings ...
this rough sketch shows what my

blog banner should look like.

So who out there inspires you lately?
And if you write a blog, please leave your
URL so that I can stop by and say hello!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Green Decorating 101/Design Show Sneak Peek

This piece will be transformed for my room at
the North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces
at the Wenham Museum, May 15th – 22nd

When I was little, my mom would take us out to search for discarded treasures on the side of the road on
“junk days” when it was okay to put large, bulky items (like old pieces of furniture) out for trash collection. Well we did a lot of collecting of our own ... hunting for “that piece is still good! items before they made it to the landfills. I can still remember when we found an antique student desk on one of our excursions. We could barely fit it in the back of the station wagon (especially with five kids in tow!) but we managed to get it home and it was mine! I did a lot of writing and drawing on that desk. It is now the inspiration piece for my designed space at the Wenham Museum (come see it at the show!) To this day, I still cannot leave a decent chair on the side of the road or pass up on an offer from a friend who might ask, “Do you want this? Maybe you can do something with it? like the small sewing cabinet shown above, generously donated to my creative cause by my neighbor. I have already begun to glam it up for the show to look something like this gorgeous writing desk that I saw at the Grange showroom at the Boston Design Center ...

See more items from Grange
in their Winter
2010 Look Book

I plan to display lots of other tips on recycling time-worn pieces in an effort to “be green,” hoping to inspire visitors to take a second look at still useful items before discarding them, while showing that
what is old can be new again.

Happy Earth Day!
xo yvonne

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vacation fantasy ...

I am happy that my children are letting me sleep in
until 9 am during this school vacation week.

I am glad that they have been outdoors most of the
time, and that the weather has accommodated.

I feel fortunate that they have only slightly damaged two of our chairs (so far) and that they have learned an important lesson that climbing out the first floor window is only a good idea when there is a fire
(one bandage required).

I am thinking it is about time for a girl’s night out ...

I am remembering a time when vacation
was one girl’s night out after another.

A vacation where the chairs were pretty amazing.

And our surroundings were quite glamorous.

I could certainly use a little pampering about now.
How about you?

Delano Hotel at South Beach
in Miami, Florida

Designed by Phillipe Starck

All photos above are from the Delano website with the exception of my friends and I seated in the lobby on one of our girl’s nights out. File under “vacations I would most like to take again ... preferably soon!”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Small space, big hit

I recently finished a small scale project in one of our boy’s rooms. We call it the “Mini Room.” The space measures 6 feet in depth by 4 feet wide and a mere 4 feet high. The space was stolen from under a new set of attic stairs that were built on the other side of the double closet wall in this bedroom. I have to credit my husband with the idea to create this secret spot for our little guys, although at first I was reluctant ... would it become one more place to store forgotten toys?

Our well-worn copy of “Where the Wild Things Are

To make it more of a destination than a play space, I designed it to function as a small sitting room, which is appropriate as only one of my four boys can completely stand up in it. To make it extra cozy, I found a large round pet bed for seating. I have since picked up a second one since it was such a big hit (also to avoid arguments over who gets to sit on it – well worth another trip to the store!) Soft pillows and snuggly blankets invite lingering, while a shelf of books encourage my little guys to spend quiet time reading.

I really love this completed project (see, we have finished something!) and the boys have even used the space for sleepovers amongst themselves. Occasionally I will find someone who has snuck the x-box in there for some late night gaming, but for the most part it has been a great place to escape to for a little peace and quiet. And just as my husband predicted, the boys love their secret hideaway, or in this case, their boy cave : )

Monday, April 19, 2010

9 by Design?

9 by Design on Bravo as viewed in my 6 by design home

Just had my first look at the new Bravo show, 9 by Design. Not sure how I feel about it yet. Was it relaxing? No. Was it an escape from my reality? No. Was I slightly envious that this couple has managed to completely renovate I-am-not-sure-how-many-houses-while-having-three-more-kids-than-us while I am still playing my “I had my fourth child and that’s why everything has taken us so long” card? Yes! See where I am at??? It reminded me a little bit of our loud, we are out-numbered life ... but with better furniture, more financial resources, and a couple of girls thrown in the mix.

What I did like (after watching one episode) ...

• they are risk takers who aren’t afraid to break rules
• they seem to have a lot of fun with their crew of kids
(loved their last-day-in-the-old-house photoshoot!)
• the kids seem quite capable of handling change
• they are all pretty adorable (love the dimples ; )
• they are able to pick up and go without attachments
• lots of great design for my viewing pleasure
• they get things done under pressure,
and miraculously are still smiling

What we have in common:
these red melamine plates
(see dining shot above!)

Of course I realize that this is just a made for TV snippet of what goes on behind the scenes in the busy life of this real family. Without camera crews, I am sure there are plenty of melt-downs before leaving the house to go antiquing as a family (really???) or “I can’t think straight with all this racket moments. The fact that Courtney whipped up her rental apartment into a designer space in under 20 minutes give or take a few commercials is no reason to feel bad about how long it is taking us to get settled over here, now is it? Even so, I plan to keep on watching. Maybe I will pick up some valuable tips on getting things done while parenting a bunch of kids with style. Stay tuned ...

Friday, April 16, 2010

A designer's to-do-list ...

One of my favorite pieces: some days it’s a bar cart ...

Vacation week???

It is Friday, the end of the week, and for some of us the beginning of school vacation (officially starting at 2:37 pm to be exact). I am hoping to get a lot of work done over the next week (interior design projects, graphic design projects, volunteer projects, keeping food in the fridge and laundry off the floor) while squeezing in a 10th birthday celebration and sufficiently entertaining the boys from morning until night (please just let me sleep in a little!) Not too much to ask, huh?

Last year it held a secret garden at the
North Shore Design Show: Tablescapes

Upcoming Design Events ...

I am most excited about pulling the items together for my designer space at the North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces which will run from May 14th until May 22nd at the Wenham Museum. This year, the event will be hosted by Kevin O’Connor from This Old House! He will be hosting a wine and cheese reception on Wednesday, May 19th where he will present highlights from the past 30 years of This Old House (he has been the host for around 6 years) and will share what is on the schedule for next season. I have SO many questions I would like to ask him about the renovations that are always underway at our own version of “this old house.
” This is one decorator event that my home-building husband is going to really enjoy (of course he will help me install my space, and then he will be my date for the Gala event : )

My tools of the trade ...

Until then, I have a lot of prep work to do, items to find and workroom projects to oversee. I will post updates over the next few weeks to give you an idea of what goes on before “opening night.”

Here is what my checklist is looking like:

• concept designed and approved
• program info delivered for printing
• fabrics/trims chosen; met with workroom
• all furniture pieces are in my possession
• have paint for miscellaneous projects
• need to order wallpaper, choose carpet
• have most decorative objects, but will
have to hunt a few down (the fun part!)
• shameless promotional work to be done : )
(twitter, facebook, email, send invites, etc.!)

Save the date ...

If you are in the area, I would love to see you at the show! I will actually be participating in the Meet the Designers Breakfast which is scheduled for Friday, May 21st from 9am to 11am. We will be giving a private tour of our spaces and will then have time to talk about design over a continental breakfast held across the street at the charming Wenham Tea House. Besides yours truly, there will be a lot of great designers participating in this year’s event. And there will definitely be some great decorating ideas for visitors to take home, so please spread the word!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Design tips from Ford Flowers

A vision of lovely created by
Bert Ford.
His tip: group flowers of the same color
(Hydrangeas, Alstromeria,
Roses, Cymbidium Orchids

While I was getting ready to leave the house last night to attend the monthly meeting of the Village Garden Club of Lynnfield, my oldest son asked me “what do you actually do at a garden club? I set my huge crystal punch bowl down (I was on refreshment committee for the night) and tried to explain why talking about flowers was so interesting to me.

Add a slight curve to a Calla Lily by gently running your thumb and forefinger down the stem. Create a stunning bowl of blossoms by adding one flower at a time, all going in the same direction.
Keep a couple of them outside of the bowl.

As I have mentioned, I do love my clubs (Book Club, Garden Club, Tennis Club, ... ). The Garden Club, however, has a special place in my heart. Both of my parents love to garden (Mom creates cottage gardens, Dad does formal plantings plus vegetables). Gardening for me connects me to that favorite childhood memory of watching my parents tend the earth. I actually got my mom to join the club with me, even though she lives a couple of towns away. It is always a pleasant evening for us, spent with a bunch of ladies who enjoy committing a couple of hours a month to ooh and ahh over all things floral, while catching up with each other over fancy refreshments. Sometimes the fact that I don’t have to do the night-time routine with the boys before they go to bed is reason enough to look forward to this girl’s night out!

This month we enjoyed the company of guest speaker, Bert Ford, owner of Ford Flower Company of Salem, NH. He shared some great tips on how to arrange flowers with a professional touch. He also shared some “I did not know that stories including how flower decorating as an art form started in America around 1961 with none other than Jackie Kennedy (she loved carnations and babies breath). Many years later Martha Stewart, with her over the top brand of do-it-my-way-because-it-is-a-good-thing creations, set high standards for everyday consumers looking to “say it with flowers. Today, in our flattened economy, we are seeing a lot more arrangements with a minimalist approach. All of a sudden, less can be more! But with my garden club friends, more flowers are always appreciated! And that is what we got last night from Bert. Here are some highlights ...

Simple glass containers and fresh flowers are all you need to get started. Scissors, floral foam (oasis), wire, and floral pics make the job easier. Ribbon will add that designer touch.

This gift basket arrangement combined a variety of flowering plants (still in their containers) with loose stems of roses, hydrangea, Gerbera daisies, babies breath and twigs to create a
long lasting arrangement that keeps on giving.

A black lacquered tray serves as a base of this engaging miniature garden thoughtfully designed with flowering pear branches, pink roses, green apples, votives and moss.

Up close it is even prettier. Set your table with this
and then call some friends over to enjoy it!

Stunning in person (this picture is a little dark) ... a large orchid plant was tucked into a square glass vase lined with large scale leaves then topped with moss. A few votive candles and rosebuds add drama.

Try wrapping an extra tall cylinder with a “corset” of grosgrain ribbon for a stylish effect. Add a large bouquet of brightly hued hand-tied flowers (hold them in your hand, add one at a time to achieve a balance of color and texture, then wrap the bunch with floral wire) and you’re done!

relaxed, yet elegant, arrangement shows off a variety of colorful blossoms, each tied in a mini bouquet with floral wire, then set in a large square vase. Be sure to check water level daily.

Most unique arrangement of the night (lots of “oohs” and “ahhs!”)

Horizontal shape, assymetrical design, drippy green flowers on one end, balanced by a huge branch of pink orchids on the other end, with bent grasses creating a handle in the center ... very designer-y! This looks like something I would see in one of my favorite shelter magazines in a modern or zen-like space. The ladies loved this one!
While I was watching the night’s presentation, I realized another reason why I love decorating with flowers. It doesn’t matter what type of home you live in, or what type of table you dine at ... a simple vase filled with cut flowers from your backyard (or the supermarket) will always get attention.

And with a little how-to information as a guide, elaborate creations can be within anyone’s reach (whether you make it yourself, or pick up the phone to place your order!) Thank you, Bert, for sharing your love of flowers and design with us. We learned a lot of great ideas on how to make boldly beautiful arrangements with confidence.

Ford Flower Company
Salem, NH