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 : )

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New England Finery at the Antique Show

The New England Finery hosted space at
The Boston Antique Design Show & Sale

Last weekend was the Boston Antique Design Show & Sale at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, MA. I was asked by the show producer, Marvin Getman, to design a 20 x 20 foot space to promote both New England Finery Magazine and the art of using antiques in interior design.

New England Finery Magazine
February 2011 p. 28 – 29

Location: The Steven’s Estate
Photographer: Elizabeth Wertz

My dining room gallery mixed traditional antiques with modern pieces. On the walls were large photographs taken from the pages of New England Finery Magazine. Next to each image, was a QR (quick response) code that when scanned into a smart phone would link directly to the photo on its page in the online issue. QR codes are being used in all sorts of marketing and advertising efforts these days, and I wanted to see what kind of response they would get. I will have to try it again at another show ... even I couldn’t get a good read off my vintage Blackberry, but visitors with the latest iPhones were able to instantly connect to New England Finery online without having to type the web address. It was pretty cool.

Carpet: First Oriental Rugs of Danvers
A set of 8 Mirage Chairs were borrowed from
Peterson Party Center in Winchester

The Mirage Chairs, a reproduction of the Kartell Victoria Ghost Chair designed by Phillipe Starck, were a BIG hit. Everyone had to touch them or sit on them (they are remarkably comfortable). I thought these would be a nice tie-in to the whole feeling of antiques having a sense of history that brings with them ghosts from the past. These see-through pieces seem to float when combined with the heavy wood furnishings of the antique world, keeping the designed space looking fresh and inviting instead of overly formal and imposing.

Transparent stacking chairs like these can be purchased through Peterson Party Center or check online (StackChairDepot,
AllModern, etc.) Prices range from around $100 for a reproduction, to around $330 for the Kartell version.

Tableware was borrowed from Peterson Party Center

When I was little, my parents ran a catering business – mostly weddings. My job was to place the silverware and occasionally be the coat girl. We always set the table the exact same way. When I was setting the table for the show, I stopped myself, and decided to mix it up. I decided to go with a non-conventional table setting. Traditional with a twist. Silverware was placed with two knives on the left, two forks on the right and the teaspoon on the saucer as if it had just been used. The rest of the silverware was put away. This got a lot of visitors talking! Some guests who were brought up with Emily Post and formal dinners were visibly upset and had to restrain themselves from, ahem, “rearranging. I gently tried to explain that it is okay to break the rules every now and then. Plus it is a fun way to get the conversation started – I certainly met some interesting people at the show this way : )

Vintage and antique pieces were borrowed from The Queen’s Vault in Wakefield, MA. They carry a blend of antiques, furnishings, decorative accessories and gift items at affordable prices. I discovered them when I was researching Cordani Shoes – which is right across the street – for issue one of New England Finery. A couple weeks before the show I stopped by and selected the items I needed to fill out my “curated space.

Settee available at The Queen’s Vault

While this wasn’t a painted furniture kind of show, I chose a couple of pieces in this style since our cover shot featured antiques mixed with white woodwork, which really captures that fresh take on tradition.

Corner chair from The Queen’s Vault

I had an inkjet copy of New England Finery on hand for visitors new to the magazine. For future events, I really should have some printed and bound through MagCloud, which is able to turn online magazines into traditional magazines. On my to-do list.

New England Finery Magazine
February 2011 p. 70 – 71
Designer: Rosanne Palazola
Photographer: Wynne & Mintz

Since I had to work with the existing dark cranberry carpet that was on the main floor of the auditorium – plus not the best interior lighting – I chose a sunny gold color for the walls (which is great behind dark woods) and then picked up the red, yellow and blue of the carpet in the rest of the space instead of fighting it.

Flower arrangement created by Laura Thomson Designs
Lynnfield, MA • 617-966-0161 •

One shopper wanted to buy my antique shoe forms that I found at Brimfield but they were just for display. Sorry!

Frank Hodge of F.D. Hodge Interiors, whose work was featured on the cover of our Autumn issue, was one of my first visitors on Saturday morning. He is talented, charming and SO funny! I have always loved his designed spaces at the York Decorator Show House ... I was thrilled to have him come visit me in my space for a change!

Michael J. Lee Photography

Check out New England Finery on facebook
to see who else came to visit.

And now for one last designer trick ...

Can you guess what makes the antique lace table covering unique? Look closely. One end is finished with a dropped hem, the other is straight across. Many people loved it and asked “how much? Along with the mahogany table (taken straight out of my dining room) the table covering was not for sale as it was from our personal collection. My mom found it at a yard sale years ago. It is actually a four-poster twin bed coverlet! That is the beauty of re-purposing antiques for use today. If you are shopping for antiques – whether at a tag sale or antique show – and discover something that you like, chances are good that you will find a special spot for it. And then you will have a “treasure hunt story of your own to tell.

SOLD: this pair of lamps from The Queen’s Vault
went home with one of the visitors to my space.

Thank you to everyone who helped me put this space together (it took a crew, and my family barely complained about not having a dining room table for two days) and special thanks goes to the dealers and designers who inspire others to celebrate antiques everyday.

What kind of antique treasures have you brought home lately?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A creative collaboration ...

Now that the autumn issue of New England Finery Magazine is complete, I can sit back and flip through the pages, which in retrospect are like a scrapbook of my summer. One of my favorite aspects of my job as editor is planning and attending photo shoots. This summer, I had the pleasure of working with Michael J. Lee on three feature stories. After individually scouting a few locations, we put some dates on the calendar when we could get together to capture the desired shots.

The York Decorator Show House is an annual favorite of mine. I took in the show with a couple of friends in early August then came back with Michael a few days later to shoot “Focal Point. This property was graced with many fireplaces and each offered a creative design solution. It was so much fun to have the show house pretty much to ourselves before the Sunday crowd came in! I was able to get a close up look of each of the spaces and truly appreciate the fine details of each room.

Michael came up with the idea of getting two local interior designers who had not met before together for a shoot at the Boston Design Center. Phoebe and Gerald were a pleasure to spend time with, and Michael staged this shot perfectly. All I had to do was show up : )

Design: Suzanne Iovanna

I am especially proud of the OMG decorating story that we shot in late August (I scouted it in June). There were so many beautifully decorated rooms to choose from, but as editor I had to pick the ones that I felt readers would respond to the most. When Michael and I were setting up shots in each of the spaces, it was easy to imagine how much fun this family must have entertaining in their “great” rooms.
Since the issue launched, I have received a lot of positive feedback on the spaces we featured including comments like “I wish I lived there!” And that is what the magazine is all about -- providing a bit of visual escape from our every day, along with some inspiration on how to incorporate what we see on the pages into our own lives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One day at a time

I am trying something a little different with the launch of New England Finery’s autumn issue ... it will come out in sections, kind of like a daily read instead of a view-it-all-in-one-sitting version. Chapter one is now online. Tell me what you think so far! More to come ...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Seen at the Suburban Home Show

Donna Flecchia of Classic Fauxs & Finishes

Last weekend my husband and I visited the Suburban Home Show at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington. I found a number of interesting vendors there that were worth writing about for my decorating column on Lynnfield Patch. Check out the full post here. I will be at the Shriner’s next weekend for the Boston Antiques & Design Show & Sale. Contact me if you’d like free passes – there will be a full house of antique dealers plus New England Finery will be there in our curated dining room gallery. Please stop by and say hi!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall at New England Fine Living ...

Last week, New England Fine Living celebrated one year of being open for business. Owner Linda Smith hosted a wine tasting event with some local blends from Mill River Winery of Newburyport. I have to say, the Chardonnay was exceptional!

Read more about Mill River Winery here.

The Write Expression, which shares retail space with NEFL, had a lot of gorgeous fall invitations on their shelves like the one above.

photo courtesy Lorna Bird Hood

One year ago at the New England Fine Living grand opening

It’s hard to believe that the store has been open for an entire year already! One of the best experiences I have had over the past few seasons was creating New England Finery Magazine to promote the vendors inside this charming historic property.

While the format of the store has changed slightly over the course of the year, it still stands as a home base to New England-inspired design. If you are looking to host a fall or winter gathering, stop by the store for seasonal home decor items or to have an invitation made up specifically for your list of guests. And if you need help styling your home for the event, Linda can help you with lots of great ideas. She has some neat autumn vignettes set up in the store so go check them out for yourself : )

This week I will be busy wrapping up the autumn issue of New England Finery Magazine. Look for it online by Monday, October 10th. Sign up here to subscribe and you will be notified by email when it is released. I can’t wait to share it with you!