Friday, July 30, 2010

Finding a fabric

A couple of years ago, a client (and friend) showed me this vintage peacock fabric found in London. She had two large panels of it framed for her home. Really stunning. With the little bit that was left over, I had a small pillow made (backed with gold velvet). I also had some great red fabric in my collection of “I will use these cool fabrics for something someday.” The green leaf on this fabric closely resembled the green leaf at the foot of the peacock ... the color and style were a perfect match! I love when that happens! Here is what the pillows look like back and front ...

Early in July, another friend of mine, who is also a designer, emailed me asking about the peacock pillow. Where could she find that fabric? She had been searching for a peacock print for a design project and when she googled “peacock fabric my website with the image above came up (which reminds me I really have to update my website with more portfolio images!)
I told my friend that, unfortunately, it was vintage, so she continued her search for something similar.

This week, while I was catching up on some favorite blogs, I came across this post (scroll down to the second photo) with a picture of the same peacock fabric on another pillow!!! I had to ask the
blog author, where did you get this???

Carlee (who I met in Boston at the BDC when we were both there to see Margaret Russell) was kind enough to share her sources. I found out that she had found her pillow at Pottery Barn a couple of years ago when they carried a collection called “Bettina that happened to be made out of a reproduction of the same print (which I believe was made by Braemore)
as our vintage favorite!

Pieces from the collection (and yardage) are now available online only through ebay, so I sent this new information along to my designer friend.

Of course, the vintage version has a nicer patina, but if the newer fabric were tea-stained it might be a close match. Isn’t it amazing when you unexpectedly stumble upon just what you were looking for???
I love when that happens, and I love following
design blogs for this very reason!

Have you ever found just what you were
looking for while reading a design blog?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The business of design ...

Seated from left to right: myself, Tina Melanson, Ann Chapdelaine,
Sandra Biondo, Rosanne Palazola enjoying High Tea at Glen Magna

After enjoying some yummy scones, tea sandwiches and desserts at last week’s Designer Tea held at Glen Magna (food provided by Harvest Catering, another coincidence) the guests in attendance were able to pose some of their design questions to us. We took turns giving our individual answers to the questions. Here are just a few of the questions with my
(now written) responses ...

Q. When designing for a client,
where do you start?

I like to meet my clients in their home and start out with a tour. Even if they plan to change an entire space, there are always fixed features that will influence the end result. What style home is it? How is the available lighting? What colors are in adjacent rooms? What types of flooring are in the home? What items have they collected over the years? Is there a favorite pattern or color scheme that keeps reappearing in their choices? Really listening to them as they point out what they wish to change and what they wish to keep is the best way for me to get a sense of their design needs. It is all about getting to know what they respond to and then working with them to create a space that feels like an extension of their personality. Of course, a blank slate (like new construction) is always a great opportunity to approach design with a fresh start, but many design reference points are usually discovered in that
first face-to-face conversation.

Q. How do you present your
ideas to your clients?

I usually put together sample boards using graphic design software (Quark Xpress and Photoshop are the tools of my trade) or I will use Polyvore to create a mood board pulling images of furnishings and patterns right from the internet. I also use Icovia, another great online resource, to quickly establish floor plans. I prefer to present ideas in person, however, I am always willing to send a quick email with the design boards attached to answer design questions in a more immediate way. Even with all of these computer aided design tools, I have discovered that lots of clients still love a real hand-drawn view of their future space. When I show an illustration of my ideas for a
client’s space, it is much easier for them
to visualize the end result.

Styling small spaces is always
a fun design project for me

Q. Has the downturn in the economy
affected your design business?

I am happy to say that through client referrals, and with participation in the past few design shows, my business has actually been growing. What has helped me, I believe, is that I am willing to take on design challenges that are big or small. Creating a
special spot in a home is just as satisfying to me as redesigning an entire room. It is also a great place to start a design relationship with a new client. I still do a lot of color consultations (which is how I started out 10 years ago), and I also love to spend an hour or two providing mini “design coaching sessions where I offer design tips that can later be executed at a client’s own pace. Whether faced with a complete renovation or a simple “freshening up my goal is always to help people make design decisions with confidence.

A notecard I designed to coordinate
with my space at the Danvers show

In addition, as I mentioned to our guests, I have actually been putting a lot of thought into creating other ways to market my design aesthetic, whether it be in pattern design,
printed reproductions of artwork, or some other type of creative representation of my design style. Jonathan Adler and Lilly Pulitzer are just a couple of designers who have successfully created a marketable brand out of their approach to design.

And I can’t forget to mention how important this blog has been in helping me to grow as a designer. It is a great way to share what I know about design while actually being able to connect with an audience. If someone gets to know me here, they are more likely to feel comfortable working with me on a future design project. And through blogging, I have made a lot of valuable connections with other design professionals. I actually have some neat collaborations in
the works that I will share with you later!

If you have any design questions of your own, feel free to pose them in the comment section below and I will answer each of them personally or in a post. And if you have an upcoming design project that you need help with, please give me a call at 617.899.1226 or
email me at

I look forward to any and all design conversations!

Don’t miss out! This is the last week to view
the designer vignettes at Tapley Hall.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Can’t focus today ...

Not sure if it is the middle of summer heat, the sound of finish carpentry outside my office door, or the fact that I stayed up way too late to watch the season premiere of Mad Men on DVR, but I can’t seem to concentrate today. Very soon, however, I will have some great after posts to show you!

To be continued ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Glen Magna Farms: a look inside

John Singer Sargent’s 1902 portrait
of Mary Endicott Chamberlain,
who once lived at Glen Magna Farms

Now that everyone knows why returning to Glen Magna in Danvers last week for a designer event was like a trip down memory lane for me, I am now ready to move on and share some interior views of the estate. Views that I did not get much of a chance to see when
I was a young twenty-something running
back and forth to the kitchen.

Next to the small cook’s kitchen is a large and elegant dining room, where presidents Taft and Cleveland once dined. The Danvers Historical Society recently had new carpeting and window treatments added to this room. I can only imagine what kind of parties have taken place here over the last 200 years (Glen Magna was built in 1812). I guess that is why I love old
homes so much, for their mysterious past!

The wallpaper, which was hung in 1923, was created out of French wood blocks from 1814 and depicts
the love story of Cupid and Psyche (which is
not as romantic as it sounds!)

This statue, found on the second floor of Glen Magna in the historical archives, looks like the woman in the wallpaper, but is Lysithea, a figure
from Greek mythology, daughter of Oceanus (see how she is holding a shell and the ocean is at her feet)
and a lover of Zeus.

Next to the statue, is an original fence post finial from the historically renowned gardens of the estate.
This finial became the inspiration for one of
the designer vignettes at Tapley Hall.

Designer Ann Chapdelaine had a lamp created
using a reproduction of the classic finial shape from
Glen Magna’s collection, and repeated the
festoon motif throughout her vignette.

Above the mantel in the Bride’s Room at Glen Magna is a painting of the Derby Summer House with a mysterious woman dressed in white (Lysithea?) walking the grounds. If you can identify her, please do!

The Derby Summer House
or McIntire Tea House ...

A rare and unique example of
American Federal architecture

The Bride’s Room

The Groom’s Room

A closer look at the wallpaper in the Groom’s Room

Friends (and designers) Erica and Brandi,
who joined us for High Tea, pose for a
modern day snapshot in the foyer.

Close up of the pretty wallpaper in the foyer

I am not sure what is hidden up here, but it was
a beautiful view as seen from the second floor.

This wallpaper found in an upstairs hall is my favorite.

Although I like the graphic look of this one as well.

In the Drawing Room, “Greek Key
and “Egg and Dart wallpaper borders create panels that frame artwork,
like the portrait below of Mary Endicott,
painted in 1887 by Ethel Mortlock.

This is just a brief (and very unofficial!) look at the rich history seen at Glen Magna Farms. If you are in the area, contact the Danvers Historical Society to get a real tour of this magnificent property. And if you are a bride-to-be, consider hosting your special day
where many before you have elegantly
celebrated love and romance!

Still to come ... Q’s and A’s
from our discussion on design

Friday, July 23, 2010

How a kitchen changed my life

The cooks kitchen (or butler’s pantry)
at Glen Magna in Danvers

It is Friday. I had a couple of serious posts that I have been working on including an interior tour of the historical beauty of Glen Magna, questions and answers from the Designer Tea that I attended there on Wednesday, Floor Cloth Painting 101 ... instead, I am going to tell you a fun story (with a happy ending of course!) I will get to the more serious posts
after the weekend (it is summer after all!)

In my mid-twenties I worked full-time in the advertising world, but on the weekends I dressed in black and white and got to watch a lot of weddings. Isn’t that just what every single girl wants to do???
My cousin, Carol, hooked me up with my first job at Harvest Catering (“All you have to do is hand out hors d’oeuv
res on silver platters ... plus some really cute guys work with us) and I fell in love ... with the fancy parties, well dressed guests, fabulous food and all the rest of the finery. Not to mention, this was a cool group of people to work with ... they knew how to host an elegant bash – with much professional polish – yet the crew after parties were serious fun!

Most of our catering events took place at Glen Magna. I was charmed by its gracious history. Going back and forth to the kitchen to fill my silver platter turned out to be more fun than I thought. When my tray was piled high with shrimp cocktail, I quickly became “most popular hors d’eouvre girl and guests would pull me aside and make me promise to visit them first with each new trayful. Some of our parties were served buffet-style in the dining room. Guests would ooh and ahh over both the food and the wallpaper.

Halloween 1992 ... Harvest held a private party at Glen Magna as a thank you to the staff after putting in many long hours during the busy wedding season.

In attendance: My roommate at the time,
who we will call Ginger, with her date,
who we will call The Professor.

“The Blues Brothers
were our disc jockeys. There were no ipods or playlists at this dance party! You had to ask for a song and then they had to physically find it in their large collection of vinyl. My date was the taller “brother on the right. This was probably our third night out. I met him after one very special catering-related event in mid-October. It was the night of my cousin Carol’s wedding, I was a guest, Harvest did the food, he was invited to the after-party by his sister, Deb, who also worked for Harvest and was a good friend of my cousin. (This is where the story gets long, but stay with me!) We didn’t really speak at the party, but when he saw me leave with a tray of goodies (since I was going home alone I figured the cookies would cheer me up) he knew then that we would get along (he had a sweet tooth). He asked his sister about me and a first date was set up. We went to dinner in Cambridge (a double date with my roommate and his) then we all went to a local nightclub to see the band Devonsquare (I had won tickets on the radio). We held hands that night. I thought, “This could be the one.

After the Halloween party ended at Glen Magna, most of us headed over to dance to more tunes spun at our DJ’s home. This is so embarrassing, but I was dressed as Marianne from Gilligan’s Island! My roomate picked the better costume for sure. But I know that I picked the better date. I soon moved in. Maybe his unpainted walls and lack of real window treatments were part of his allure? The rest, as they say, is history : )

Thursday, July 22, 2010

High Tea at Glen Magna Farms: part 1

Original wallpaper still graces the dining room at Glen Magna.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Glen Magna Farms in Danvers for a Meet the Designer High Tea. After viewing the Reflecting on Danvers History through Interior Design show over at Tapley Hall, guests then drove over to Glen Magna to tour the gardens, meet some of the show designers, ask us questions and enjoy finger sandwiches, scones
and a tall glass of iced tea (or wine if desired ; ) Today I have a couple of client meetings, so for now I will post some snapshots of the beautiful grounds at Glen Magna ...

One of our guests was the lovely Erica from the design blog Decorica. Please stop by and visit her while I am out today! I will post more about this event tomorrow.