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 yblacker@verizon.net 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?