Monday, November 29, 2010

Decorating memories ...

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? I really enjoyed the time we spent with family and friends over the past few days. There is something special about visiting with beautifully familiar faces! Along with enjoying a delicious meal prepared by my fun-to-be-around in-laws (when the Blacker’s get together, there is always a lot of laughter) I also attended my High School reunion which certainly stirred up some memories! Of course the yearbooks all came out, along with the childhood photo albums (which are my personal favorites). How adorable is my outfit in this photo from Thanksgiving, circa 1972?? And how cute is my younger brother looking up at me? If you go back to my last post, you will notice that as an adult I have essentially copied my mother’s decorating style by purchasing a matching buffet and very similar colored table lamps. The flowers are even in the same place. Some parts of our visual past are forever
ingrained in us, I guess!

How has your childhood influenced
the way you decorate today?

Author’s note: “Not-so-big posts” are in the queue for this week. If you would like to read some in-depth posts on current design trends, please visit Alluminare where I am presenting a series of posts this week on the Slow Home movement. And if there is a current design trend that you would like to learn more about, just let me know!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving arrangement

My favorite spot to decorate in my home lately is the antique buffet in my foyer. You may have seen it recently in the YouTube video that I was asked to submit for the Design SherpaWhat Inspires You
contest.* This is one area in my home that is not completely surrounded by construction happenings! We are still working on the master bedroom project, which puts the kitchen/first floor powder room/ mudroom project on the back burner until we get the bedrooms/office situation straightened out.

We are getting very close though, and I am by nature incredibly patient, so it is all good. When this always-in-construction-phase is finally complete, it
will become a distant memory, and then I can
decorate to my heart’s content!

For now I am happy to have my vignettes.

Even a small bud vase with a single bloom can
provide a positive moment in a day.

But don’t worry – we do have a temporary kitchen set up in our dining room that is fully equipped with standard appliances and stocked cabinets, there just isn’t space for a stove. Looking on the bright side, without an oven, I will not be expected to do any holiday cooking from now until Christmas ; )

It will be nice to be the guest for the next two holidays instead of the host, and for that I am thankful! And l
iving without a working kitchen seems like a minor inconvenience when there are so many people who are struggling to feed their families, not just during the holidays, but every day. Those are the people I worry about. I think about the people who are out of work or underemployed. I think about the people who experience the holiday not as a day off, but as just one more day without adequate means to provide for one’s family. But that is a post for another day ...

I hope your week is filled with people you cherish,
in comfortable surroundings, enjoying delicious
food, much laughter, fun and relaxation.


*P.S. To see who won the Design Sherpa “What Inspires You?” contest, click here. While I did not come in first place, I was happy to have been included in the top ten of the 100 “inspired” posts : )

Friday, November 19, 2010

Connecting with creatives ...

About once a month, the Boston Design Center hosts lecture series featuring celebrity designers. And yes they are celebrities to us! This past Tuesday, Alexa Hampton presented a retrospective of interior design scenes from her childhood homes to her current residence. This was one of my favorite presentations that I have seen at the BDC for awhile.

{Photo from Mark Hampton, LLC website}

Alexa is intelligent, humorous, warm and so down to earth. She is the kind of person who can easily connect with others and make them feel at ease even though she lives a really big life and has worked on amazing projects, beginning her career as a young teen at the side of her talented architect/designer father, Mark Hampton. In 1998 Alexa took over her father’s interior design firm after his passing. She has made quite a name for herself and has proven that while her talent may be inherited, it can also stand on its own. She has designed interiors all over the globe and her portfolio includes product lines for a number of quality design manufacturers, making her signature style
available to the rest of us.

Alexa Hampton for Hickory Chair

Alexa Hampton for Kravet

Alexa Hampton for Circa Lighting

Side note: Alexa said she prefers wall-to-wall
carpet in bedrooms (she also designs for Stark)
Good to know! Our new master bedroom carpet is
scheduled to be installed within the next 2 weeks!

The Language of Interior Design
by Alexa Hampton

After showcasing dozens of opulent interiors and classic design treatments, with funny side stories of design snafus and their graceful resolutions, Alexa was available to sign her book titled Alexa Hampton, The Language of Interior Design. I regret to say that I did not purchase a copy, but I will put it on my holiday wish list! Alexa offers just as much useful information as she offers pretty pictures and I am sure I would enjoy reading her take on design. Even more I would love to talk with her about her life as a designer and young mom. She shared some entertaining stories that I could definitely relate to! Along with being an incredible designer, Alexa was named one of the top twelve “Fun Fearless Females by Cosmopolitan magazine and the title suits her : )

Here are some interesting degrees of
separation from Tuesday’s event ...

Designers Melissa Gulley and Alexa Hampton

I finally met interior designer Melissa Gulley at this event. Melissa writes a blog titled Design Track Mind. When I was at the North Shore Design Show this May, the space next to mine was designed by Nanette Chandler who happens to be a good friend of Melissa. I had been following Melissa’s blog for some time and Nanette confirmed that Melissa was as nice as she was talented. After meeting her in person, I agree!

Recently Melissa was recruited by non-other than
This Old House to be the interior designer for a local renovation project in Auburndale, Massachusetts. This new series will air this Saturday (check your local listings). Kevin O’Connor was actually the honorary chair of the North Shore Design Show: Favorite Spaces and I had a chance to meet him last May. By coincidence, Alexa Hampton has also been a senior design consultant for This Old House and was the first woman who was a regular on the show.
Small world getting smaller!

Also enjoying the event was one of my favorite online design friends, Julieann Covino of Jace Interiors and the design blog Create Girl. When you work mostly on your own or one-on-one with clients, it is nice to connect with others in the design field at these types of professional gatherings (even when the meeting is a tweet-up online ... still valuable!) Whenever I see Julieann we have these great conversations about social media and how it has enhanced our creative careers. I wish our paths crossed more often because
I always enjoy running into her.
She is extremely
smart, super energetic, and very positive.

We talked about her upcoming series of design seminars which she will be kicking off this Sunday with a presentation on how to make choices when decorating a nursery. If you are in the area and have a “baby bump
that you are designing for, I would highly recommend registering for what I am sure
will be a fun and informative discussion.
Click here for event details.

{Photo from ABCDdesign blog}

{Photo from Dunes & Duchess website}

Also at the BDC on Tuesday was
the talented stylist, writer, and editor Stacy Kunstel of New England Home Magazine. I haven’t had a chance to feature the beautiful new collection of candelabras
from her Dunes and Duchess product
line yet, so today is the day!

One was recently featured in the Shippan Showhouse in Connecticut and another was just raffled off to a lucky attendee at a Living with What You Love event at The New Traditionalists showroom in NYC hosted by a couple of designer/bloggers who I met at the taping of the Nate Berkus Show: Jonathan Legate and Amy Dragoo. Can you just imagine how beautiful this piece would look on a Thanksgiving or holiday table?!
Click here for retail locations.

Final shout out for the week ...

This Saturday at New England Fine Living my friend (and in-real-life next door neighbor) Jenny Scala, will be hosting a Style PIC trunk show from 10am to 2pm. She will have all kinds of fashion accessories, bags and on-trend wardrobe choices that she has selected from her designer sources. She will be offering some special discounts on in-store merchandise and will be taking custom orders as well. Jenny’s items always go fast, so come early and don’t miss out on this one-day event!

There will also be red tag sale items
throughout New England Fine Living
including one-of-a-kind pieces from
Antiques Displayed at incredible prices!

Have a great weekend, get out there, and connect!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shopping, sipping and networking

Liz White, owner of Mason & Madison with friends Janeen,
Michelle, Shannon, and Nicole Mitsakis of
Bee Custom

Last Thursday night I attended a fun event at the new Burton’s Grill in Peabody. We were invited to enjoy complimentary cocktails, sample dishes off the Burton’s menu and do some shopping while mingling with a number of North Shore businesses. A couple of Middleton business owners that I know were there, so I was happy to have an evening to chat with them about work, business and life!

New England Fine Living representatives enjoying our Harvest martinis (joining me is Heidi Bond, owner of The Dazzling Dot which specializes in gourmet gifts).

On display: A table full of unique gift items
available at Mason & Madison

along with just a sample of the custom stationery and
gift items designed by Nicole Mitsakis of Bee Custom.

This fun event was coordinated by Julie Fairweather
of In Full Force pictured here with Nicole and Liz.

Northshore Magazine was the media sponsor and had representatives at the event. I happily noticed an ad for New England Fine Living is in the December issue (page 86). After looking at the two issues I left with, I still think they could use more content featuring North Shore home design (I may have even offered to help with that ...) and I also put in a request for a digital version to be made available online. Wouldn’t that be nice? I was happy to see some familiar faces in the Oct./Nov. issue (Liz is on page 44 and the home of furniture designer and architect Sebastian Carpenter was featured on pages 118-121). To read my posts on Sebastian’s work and to see photos that I took while visiting his home click here and here. To see my post on Liz at Mason & Madison click here.

Check out the
Lifestyle Blitz Facebook page
for future events by clicking here.

Perhaps I will see you at the next one ; )

FYI: Save now on holiday treats ...

The Dazzling Dot (my friend Heidi’s business) is offering $5.00 off all Thanksgiving cookie and brownie gift boxes. Act quick, offers ends November 24th!
Click here for online ordering info

If you would like to network on the Northshore,
mark your calendar and plan to combine business
with pleasure on Thursday, December 2nd for a
Women in Business Holiday Networking Event
that will take place at New England Fine Living at
106 South Main St. in Middleton from 5pm to 7pm.
Click here for RSVP details.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Preparing for the holiday season

Vignette by Ann Chapdelaine
for a recent design show
Reflecting on Danvers History
through Interior Design

As many of us enjoy the day off in honor of our Veteran’s, I figured it would be a good time to start thinking about those
just-around-the-corner holidays! With this in mind, I will be presenting some weekly posts that focus on traditions, unique gifts for giving, and how to enjoy the holidays with the least amount
of stress so that we may get the most out of our
cherished time with
family and friends.

Original art by Mark Grundig of
Arrangement by
Fiddlehead Flowers of Salem

Pottery by sculpter Michael A. Guadagno of Danvers

Today’s tip involves shopping at unexpected places and I am featuring the boutique at the Danvers Historical Society (which also has items for sale online). As many of you know, this summer
I participated in a design show to benefit DHS, and many items from the numerous vignettes are now for sale in the shop, along with a variety of designed objects from local artisans. If you live in or close to the North Shore area, this is a great way to shop local
and support the talented artists that are
in our neighborhoods.

Below are just some of the items being offered ...

From my design collection: Nursery toile
fabric art in linen adorned wooden frames

Modern floral arrangement from
Sandra Biondo Interiors of Danvers
(seen below in design show vignette)

More arrangements from Fiddlehead Flowers paired
with carpets from First Oriental Rugs of Danvers

Permanent flowers are a thoughtful hostess gift

that will last long after the holidays.

This large organic wreath would add a subtle
and sophisticated touch to winter decorating.

Offering old-world-style blown-glass holiday
ornaments designed by The Merck Family is
an annual tradition at the DHS boutique.

This year’s ornament is the “lucky Double Mushroom in honor of The New England Mushroom Company which provided this “versatile vegetable” to the Boston and Salem markets back in the mid-20’s to mid-30’s. Ornaments from
years past are still available for purchase.

From 2009:

The Danvers Historical Society boutique is
located at 11 Page Street in Danvers and is open
Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm
or shop online by clicking here.

Danvers Historical Society
upcoming events ...

Parade of Trees at Tapley Hall
November 27th and 28th from 2pm till 6pm
December 2nd from 3pm to 7pm
December 3rd from 10am to 5pm

All donated and decorated trees will be
raffled off to benefit the Danvers Bi-Peds.
Raffle tickets are available for purchase
through the Danvers Historical Society.

The Annual Holiday Soiree at the
Endicott Mansion at Glen Magna Farms
December 3rd from 6pm to 10pm
For event information and tickets, click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Refreshing a Master Bedroom

AFTER: soft spring green combines with plum, yellow, white
and gray to create a fresh color palette for a master bedroom.

Recently I made it back to check on the end result of a
decorating project that I planned for one of my clients.

Her decorating goal was to freshen up her master
bedroom by painting the walls, adding fabrics in cheerful colors,
and at the same time improve the layout while reusing the existing furniture.
I was happy to help!

Here is the before shot of the room: lots of traditional fabrics in neutral colors – black and white toile combined with a tan plaid and medium sized check – nice enough, but she was tired of the look. Accessories seemed to be all in the same color resulting in little to no contrast. The gray walls seemed drab next to the warm color of the furnishings, and the decorative painting over the arched window and doorways did not help to create a sense of calm in this area of rest.

First we addressed the layout. By rotating the bed to the left-hand wall in front of the smallest window, we were able to open up the room considerably. The pair of chairs with ottomans were moved over to the corner making a more intimate seating area positioned by the window for natural light. We moved the television onto a corner unit stand that could now be viewed both from the chairs or from the bed. Two dressers and a favorite curio cabinet also were repositioned along walls more suited to their sizes.

BEFORE: This corner was under-utilized
and the view outside the window was not
as good as the blocked view outside the
palladian window behind the bed.

AFTER: Switching the bed to this side opens
up the space while being much cozier.

In the end, only a handful of new pieces were added to the room including a shapely pair of lamps with the perfect colored shade that I found at HomeGoods, a white ceramic garden stool was brought in to add shine and contrast to the warm woods, and the TV stand is also new (sorry, I did not get a shot of it). Items that were taken out included a basket collection, a small painted table, and the candlestick lamps with toile shades. We also incorporated some larger more graphic works of art on the walls to replace the many small framed prints that we edited out.

During the process, I gave my client a few different options on fabric choices and I was glad she chose this modern twist on traditional. By using a confident mix of bold patterns with predominantly solid fabric choices the end result still has personality, but in a more subdued way. I was also happy to see her “go green by re-dressing her existing furnishings instead of completely starting over, creating a new look
while honoring pieces collected over time.