Thursday, May 27, 2010

A designer’s before and after ...

Welcome to my “room!”

The story behind this vignette is an easy one to tell as it is my own. When asked to provide a concept for our designed space at the Wenham Museum’s North Shore Design Show, we were encouraged to create a space that reflected our personal design aesthetic. On the ride home from that first meeting, I was already planning visual ways to interpret “creative resourcefulness” as my theme.

The inspiration fabric for my space: a vintage
Waverly print, found at

There is a lot of buzz these days about recycling, reusing what we have, designing with sustainable materials and shopping locally in an effort to be environmentally conscious. The plan for my space was to use my personal story as a way to highlight the current trend toward green decorating, and do it in a way that looked fresh and modern while using inspirational items from my past and present. The best part for me? I did not have to go far to find inspiration. I combined many items from my personal collections (curated over the past 30 years or so) with items from craigslist, vintage stores, ebay and favorite local places to shop to design a space dedicated to creative pursuits. For each time period, I used inspiration boards to show design trends that more often than not repeat themselves.

From a student desk surrounded with cherished objects from childhood, to a sophisticated grown-up space with a touch of nostalgia, my room was filled with items and images that inspire me.

Window treatments and seat cushion: Acorn Interiors, Andover, MA Chair seat: Pentucket Furniture Restoration, Haverhill, MA
Turkish rug from the 1930’s - 1940’s: First Oriental Rugs, Danvers, MA

Let’s start with a quick visit
to the 70’s and 80’s ...

I got this doll for 10 cents at a neighbor’s yard sale. My mom made the dress out of an old curtain (see my 6th birthday photo above). The white cat on the preppy colored chair (from my wallpaper as art collection) looks a lot like my childhood kitty Tomasina.

Girly-girl favorites: butterflies and friendship pins.
Butterfly cup by Beth Hylan

Do you remember pet rocks and Pappagallos?
One year on pointe shoes was enough for this dancer.

Some of my favorite books, that I read over and over again, made it to the show. I think I will reread “Mandy” one more time. Written by The Sound of Music’s Julie Andrews under the pen name Julie Edwards, it is a charming story about an orphan girl who longs for a place to call home.

A journal cover of mine, quite obviously from the eighties, and the inspiration for the disco ball hanging above my space ; )

Dear Blog Visitor,

You may not know this about me, but I have always written in a journal of some sort. My first diary was red with gold trim and it had a key. I think my brothers still managed to open it from time to time, but I cherished having a secure spot for my private thoughts (like who I had a crush on that day!) The diary I used for the show was hot pink velvet and is available through
I used to read Seventeen Magazine religiously during junior high and high school. The December 1982 edition used for my show with “Think Pink!” on the cover was a must have. I paid $20 for it on ebay which was money well spent to travel back in time!

I have had a pen-pal (her name is Sandy) since 1976. The card on the desk is one of her many letters that I have saved over the last few decades.
We are now friends on Facebook, and she actually came to visit me and my family for the first time a couple of years ago. She still lives on a real working farm in Indiana and has a family of her own.

Thank you for letting me re-live my childhood memories. Did you see any favorite objects that you recognized from your own childhood?

PS Did you know smiley faces are making a comeback? : )

Back to 2010 ...

As an adult, I now use my blog to pen my thoughts about design and creating an inspired life. I still like to surround myself with cherished objects ... cherished for their ability to remind me of a person, place, time or thought that is important to me.

This glass paperweight was used in last year’s design show. The Y mug was a gift from a sister-in-law (who introduced me to my husband). Bunny Williams’ book “An Affair with a House” reminds me that my home and barn have great potential.

I used to sketch this wooden model over and over again back in high school. I love how wallpapers and patterns breathe life into a room (or in this case a bookshelf). My initial has always defined me (and not many others have it!)

When I see a key, I add it to my collection. To me, they represent the ability we each have to unlock the door that opens to the world that we wish for ourselves. This vintage piece was created by my friend, Beth Hylan who has a shop called Studio B in Concord.

I am always inspired by the creative talents
and wisdom of others ...

I love decorative items that play on scale and add a touch of whimsy. Bubble balls and turf balls from CB2. Silver dish from design friend and blogger, Linda Merrill. (read about it here). A lot of design bloggers are trend-spotting dramatic black walls and this wallpaper from the 70’s ...

My grandmother used to wear the white owl above on a necklace when she took us to yard sales
(I have inherited her love for a bargain!)

I used another pendant that was Nana’s
to adorn my purse
for the Preview Party.

This light was in my grandparents home, I just added a little bling to it with new crystals and a frosted white glass shade. The sewing table was a trash-to-treasure piece inspired by the lovely desk shown below, seen at the Grange showroom at the Boston Design Center ...

Flowers *always* move me. Especially when a $20 orchid from Home Depot looks so fabulous.

Bouquet flowers from Stop & Shop, used to fill this small vase, lasted the entire week of the design show, even under bright lights. Vintage squirrel from Nesting on Main. Acrylic tray on table is from CB2.

The table itself cost just $5.00 at a yard sale (I added a glass top over a square of remnant fabric). My “blogger’s desk was $80.00 off of Craigslist. The ladder back chair was free ... I found it on the side of the road. Manchester Tan Aura paint from Benjamin Moore ties all of my pieces together.

Look closely at my large inspiration board (another DIY project) and you will see lots of photos of my family. They are quite often the reason I do what I do.

{Butterfly by Ben}

My guys enjoying the large train gallery
downstairs at the Wenham Museum.

The little details in life,
woven together, tell our story.

Thanks for visiting me – at the museum or online. While this has been my personal story, my goal is always to set the stage for someone to tell their own story in their surroundings. Every home should celebrate the people who live there, showing what is important to them, where they have been and where they are going, while providing a view of that which inspires them.


  1. Love it Yvonne! Love the then and now feel of the room. I bet it took a lot of visitors back to their youth as well! ----Chris

  2. Oh, Yvonne!

    Thank you for sharing such a personal glimpse into who you were as a little girl and who you are now. So many sweet, nostalgic images from your childhood! And just as many lovely and inspiring details that reflect the gifted creative spirit you have become. Beautiful and touching!

  3. Yvonne, I love everything you shared and what a great glimpse into your life. So glad to get to know you better,

    Surprise is up on my site.

    Art by Karena


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