Friday, December 23, 2011

New England Finery Winter Issue!

The winter issue of New England Finery is now online! Filled with inspiring images of entertaining at home, it is my gift to you this holiday season. Since we are all so busy at this time of year, it is a mini-version at about 50 pages.

New England Finery Winter 2011 p16 : photo credit Yvonne Blacker
fabrics available through Calico Corners

Bold images and graphic patterns are paired with minimal text, because who really has time to read between gift shopping, package wrapping, treat baking and party hopping?!

New England Finery Winter 2011 p30 : photo credit Yvonne Blacker 

And in the event that you need a secret “easy recipe to serve up this weekend, consider giving my Confection Cake a try. It is so simple to make (the little ones can even help) and I think it looks really pretty! The recipe is on page 30.

Florist: New Leaf Flores 

Happy holidays, everyone! Whatever you celebrate, I hope you get to spend lots of quality time in the presence of your favorite people. Enjoy!!   xoxo  yvonne

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All I want for Christmas ...

The Be Collection from WetStyle available at Designer Bath in Beverly

If I could have one big gift under my tree this year it would be a free standing soaking tub. Oh, and a newly renovated bathroom to put it in. And it would be just my bathroom. My husband and four boys can have the old one. Just putting it out there : )

Check out my list of unique holiday gift ideas that I recently posted for Designer Bath. Maybe you’ll see an item that would make the perfect gift for someone special or to add to your own holiday wish list?

Monday, December 12, 2011

It’s (almost) a wrap

Silver paper sparkles in a room filled with designer patterns.

Space decorated by Katie Rosenfeld and Rachel Reider

Naughty or nice? This wrapping paper is sure to get noticed.

Space decorated by Katie Rosenfeld and Rachel Reider

Small, brightly colored packages look right at home
nestled in a pair of dining room chandeliers.

Space decorated by Hillary Bovey of Concord for the

An evergreen garland strung with gifts adds
holiday charm to this traditional fireplace.

Space decorated by Kate McCusker of Theodore & Company

If only ... a place for everything and everything in its place.

Remember this great wrapping room featured in the last issue of New England Finery? If you are in the throws of the holiday gift buying/wrapping/giving season, I bet this kind of dedicated space is looking like a must-have about now. And if there is a lock on the door it would be the ideal place to hide surprises from sneaky little (and big) ones who just have to know if they are getting everything on their list.

I have barely had a chance to do much holiday shopping myself (so boys if you are reading this you can stop looking), however I have been putting the finishing touches on some holiday gift giving and decorating ideas for the next issue of New England Finery. Look for it online later this week. Click here to subscribe (it’s free – my gift to you : )

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A few client “Afters”

Step one: color consultation and linen choices for the bath
Step two: find artwork to hang over the spa tub

I forget sometimes to show what I am working on with my decorating clients, so today I am featuring a few homes that I have helped transform with fresh paint colors, new art, decorative styling or design coaching. The spa tub above needed a piece of artwork that could fill the space and still make sense with the colors in the adjacent master bedroom. The bedding, which the homeowner chose, is a multicolored small print floral (scroll down below to see entrance to bath). I found this large canvas with tall flowers bordering a sandy beach. I like how it references water (i.e. being in the tub or in the ocean) plus the flowers in the painting are shown in the same rich colors that are found on the bed.

I suggested monogramming “his and her towels
to add a personal touch to the new bath.

A cool blue was chosen for the master bedroom walls to coordinate with the bedding and to add a contrast to the warm wood tones of the furniture and the sandy palette of the bath. On top of the dresser, I created a focal point that would also anchor the flat screen wall mounted television. I added a pair of candlesticks for a touch of romance and to help bridge the visual gap between the television and the bureau.

For this vignette, I chose objects that were a variety of heights, finishes and textures. A painted vintage box acts as a pretty catch-all for small jewelry boxes along with the odds and ends that typically end up being emptied from pockets at night.


A modern light blue-gray wall color was chosen to compliment the more traditional slate covered floors.

An extremely long hallway was given architectural interest by adding crown molding and wainscotting detail. Now the walls are ready for a gallery of family photos. By keeping the palette monochromatic, the focal point is on the master bedroom at the hall’s end, instead of drawing attention to the expanse of walls.

The master bedroom in this home is a
rich contrast of chocolates and creams.


Existing cabinets in this home were refinished and given new hardware to match the new stainless steel appliances. By keeping their existing cabinets, the homeowners were able to splurge on a new granite countertop and tumbled marble backsplash ...


We chose a cranberry, gray and cream colored granite that would pull out the colors in the stained glass door on one of the upper cabinets. The yellow pineapple plays the same visual trick. When you work with what you have, instead of fighting it, the final design looks much more planned.

Learn my decorating tricks ...
Could your home use a little “design coaxing?” Do you have decorating questions that you would like answered? I am going to be presenting a series of evening decorating workshops at TaggArt Studio in Wakefield starting in January. If you would like to sign up, email me at and I will send you info.

Special holiday shopping event ...
There will be a holiday shopping open house at TaggArt Studio on this Friday night, December 2nd from 6pm to 8pm and on Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Along with fine artwork from studio owner Mary Taggart, jewelry, hostess gifts, and custom children
s clothing and accessories, my friend Beth Hylan will be there with her always creative holiday trimmings so don’t miss out! For more details, click here. I will be sending over some fliers with the information about my upcoming classes, and you will be able to get on the class list by signing up during this weekend sale. Decorating consultations also make great gifts and I will have some discounted gift certificates available for those hard-to-buy-for someones on your list!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mentoring others in design

Ted and Kim Goodnow of Woodmeister Master Builders receive
their Cumar Marble & Granite designed award from publisher of
Design New England, Steve Twombly, and editor Gail Ravgiala

While the design/build field may appear to be a competitive arena, it actually is very much about creative collaboration and the sharing of information. Every feature story that is shown in a major shelter magazine has been touched by teams of professionals who bring to the table their specific set of talents. When these industry experts take what they know and share it with those around them, encouraging others to do the same, the design community as a whole benefits. Last Thursday evening, at the Cyclorama in Boston, a number of design field professionals – who by their very nature make a point of mentoring others – were celebrated and honored with Mentors in Design Awards presented by Design New England Magazine.

Read about the honorees here
Distinguished Mentors: Lynda Onthank, Steve Durkee, Estelle Bond Guralnick
Mentors of the Year: Ted & Kim Goodnow

Annabelle’s Garden, oil on linen, John C. Traynor
Fine art and flowers at the 15th Annual
Boston International Fine Art Show

Linda Merrill, Estelle Bond Guralnick, Michael J. Lee, Eric Roth
(Click on links above for their reviews of this event)

Design New England chose to pair this award ceremony with the celebration of their 5th Anniversary in print and hosted it during the gala preview of the Boston International Fine Art Show. Writers, photographers, designers, architects, builders, artists, and editors mingled amidst a backdrop of eye-catching, conversation-starting works of contemporary and traditional art. While networking and socializing with my friends and sometimes co-workers was the highlight of the evening, my only regret is not taking more time to really study the impressive galleries at this show. One of the comments made during the awards presentation was that all of us there were artists in some respect. Whether that art involves dedication to a craft, creation or appreciation, the words rang true.

While I do have a background in fine arts, I haven’t produced an oil painting since college (and they weren’t anything like this one!) At one point in the evening, I was told by Robert Brown and Eliza Tan that I should have my photo taken in front of it since my sweater complimented the colors so nicely. They know what they are talking about, so I obliged : )

Design New England, Nov./Dec. 2011
Cover photo: Jim Westphalen

If you haven’t seen the 5th Anniversary issue of Design New England yet, it is now available online. Turn to page 47 and you will see one of the first ads I designed as the new marketing director for Designer Bath in Beverly, MA. In this role, I handle all of their ad placements, the design of the ads, plus social media engagement like twitter, facebook and their new design blog.

How does a decorator/magazine editor end up as a full-time marketing director? When I was researching ad sponsorship for the summer issue of New England Finery Magazine, I visited the website for Designer Bath since they were incorporated by designer Pat Finn in her vignette for the Wenham Museum North Shore Design Show last May – one of my feature stories.

Segment produced by America’s Best TV

On their home page Designer Bath posted that they were looking for someone to coordinate photo shoots of high-end baths, design advertising materials, oversee production and placement of television and print media ... I thought to myself “I would love to do that!
When I met with them and shared my background in advertising and design, along with the fact that my husband is a trade professional, it just seemed like the perfect fit at the right time. But rest assured, I am still dedicated to my creative projects including this blog, decorating consultations and the direction of New England Finery. It is the sum of all these related parts that make up my creative whole, and each is essential to who I am as a designer, and an artist.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Holiday Homes Tour

Laura Thomson designed vignette for the
Holiday Homes Tour in Boxford, MA

Around the same time that I was planning my New England Finery decorated space for the Boston Antiques & Design Show, I was asked if I would like to participate in the Boxford Holiday Homes Tour. I thought about it for awhile, but with a magazine to produce, a show to prepare for and a new full-time job (I will share more about that in a later post), I just didn’t think I could pull it off without cutting corners somewhere. I am just one person (my favorite new line : ) and so far have not learned how to clone myself in order to be in two places at once! But I knew someone who could really rock this type of event.

Flower arrangements in vintage red goblets
Designer: Laura Thomson

My friend, Laura Thomson, who I have watched do amazing work year after year at our garden club Art in Bloom shows, and whose home is to-die-for gorgeous (get a glimpse of it in this holiday post), was willing to step up and be one of the featured designers. And she did an amazing job!

She had an entire porch (and a large bit of front yard) to decorate. The porch itself had gorgeous stained floors and rustic looking white-washed walls. To see what Laura did to transform this veranda to an autumn cider-pressing party, visit her new blog Designing44 to read about it in her own words. And be sure to follow her – she is super talented and I can’t wait to see what she posts in the future!

Want to see more from the tour? Here are some photos that I took while enjoying this
holiday stroll on a warm, early November day.

I never tire of a classic black urn with fall flowers, grasses, peppers and gourds. So colorful and welcoming!

This dining room was striking with fresh green walls, cobalt blue glassware and pumpkin spice damask chairs.

The designer of this space, Arlene Jaffe or AJ as she likes to be called, came right up to me and introduced herself, “Do I know you from somewhere?” Well my memory is not as good as it used to be, but after a few minutes of “were you here, were you there” we figured out we sat together at a luncheon that featured a panel of designers from the Old York Decorator Showhouse back in 2009.

I loved seeing AJ’s work in person. She has an elegant sense of style paired with a super-bubbly personality. Note to my designer friends: when showing off your work at a designer showhouse, don’t be shy! Introduce yourself to visitors and get their feedback like AJ does. You will never know what you have in common unless you start a conversation!

AJ not only decorated this home for the holiday tour, she also decorated the home for every day living. This sitting room was quite inviting. Love the artwork over the fireplace, ottoman focal point and textured floor covering.

Another friend of mine was on the tour – Liz White from Mason & Madison. She set up shop in one of the homes and had on display numerous gift items including delectables and adorables ...

One of the designers on the tour, Linda Holt, wrote a great blog post on being a part of the event. Reading it, I discovered she studied with a color consultant/designer who I follow on twitter, Maria Killam. It is a small world!

If you’d like to take in a holiday tour for yourself (I suggest you grab some girlfriends, your mom, or a design enthusiast to join you) there are a couple coming up that I know of:

Concord Museum Holiday House Tour
December 3rd

Holly Days in Sandwich:
Holiday Homes Tour on Dec. 11th

Maybe I will see you at one of them?

P.S. Click here to view more photos from Laura
s space and see some other homes on the tour that I posted about in my decorating column for Lynnfield Patch.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mad for Mid-Century Modern

Do you love Mad Men style decorating? I am really starting to appreciate the clean lines and cool vintage vibe. I recently wrote a series of posts featuring this Mid-Century Modern design aesthetic. Check them out on the Alluminare design blog.

Can Mid Century Modern design be youthful?

Inviting Mid Century Modern to dinner.

A Mid Century Modern Inspired Living Room

Where do you like to shop for Mid Century Modern?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Costumes and couture ...

Photo credit: Alinka Amoroso

Need some last minute inspiration for your Halloween costume? Here are a few ideas that I have collected recently ... although truth be told these are not outfits that you can whip up in a day!

Photo credit: Alinka Amoroso

Knoll Studios in Boston created these costumes out of textiles from their furnishings collections to represent the Beatles for the IIDA Iconography Fashion Show held in mid-October. From left to right: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Strawberry Fields Forever, Yellow Submarine and Octopus’ Garden. Models were from Spagnolo Gisness & Associates and Knoll won “Best Use of Materials.
Very Project Runway!

I got to take a tour of the Knoll showroom while they were preparing for the show. I promise to post more about Knoll later.

Have you ever seen or heard about the Steam Punk movement before? It is a hot new (?) design trend that combines modern technology with Victorian-era antiques.

Computer transformation designed and executed by
Steam Punk expert Bruce Rosenbaum of ModVic

Above is an iMac that has been modified with a creative array of vintage artifacts. Yes, the old-school keyboard actually works! Along with this mash-up of old and new, there is also a fashion component to Steam Punk. Check out the video clip below that shows a parade of Steam Punk enthusiasts masquerading as VictorianProper-meets-ModernDay citizens. Curious to see more? You are in luck because starting on Halloween, there will be a Steam Punk extravaganza and exhibit at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham, MA.
Click here for more info.

Alexander McQueen: Girl in Tree/Red Coat
photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

And we can’t talk out-there
fashion statements without a sincere nod to the late Alexander McQueen. If I were to dress up for this “come as you wish to be” holiday, I would want to wear McQueen.

New England Finery Magazine, Autumn 2011
photo credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Read more about how McQueen created high-fashions designed to empower women in the latest issue of New England Finery Magazine. Now that is what I call dressing up!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Easy as (pumpkin) pie

Okay, this is the easiest flower arrangement anyone can do.
The only tricky part is carving out the pumpkin : )

  • one pumpkin
  • bouquet of flowers plus interesting filler plants (grasses, fall blossoms, ribbons)
  • square of oasis (floral foam)

How it is done:
  • soak floral foam in a bowl of cool water
  • carve pumpkin while foam is soaking
  • face on pumpkin is optional but will require a vase to be set in the carved out shell

  • set a square of wet floral foam inside pumpkin shell
  • cut flowers to length that reaches over the top of the shell
  • place flower stems in floral foam as desired
  • add water to pumpkin shell once arrangement is complete

That’s it! Great as a centerpiece, plus no one will walk off with it in the middle of the night : )