Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lunch with HGTV + Blogfest 2013 part 4

A memorable Blogfest moment from my trip to New York in May (was it really almost a month ago??) was when my travel companion designer Linda Holt and I were waiting for our bus to arrive to take us back home to Boston. We were at the head of the line, still dressed up from a morning spent visiting Kravet fabric studios (more about that later), luggage at our feet with HGTV swag bags in tow. A young couple a few spots down in the line from us were chatting with each other, glancing at us. The girl left her spot in line, walked over to us and asked “Are you two with HGTV? I love HGTV!” Linda and I just laughed. After being treated by HGTV the day before, we actually did feel a little bit like part of the HGTV family ...

We began day two of Blogfest 2013 at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House and later were transported as a group to Hearst Towers for an HGTV sponsored lunch. The last time I was in New York, the city was blanketed with snow. This time, we had a great view of the surprisingly lush roof top gardens below. Some even had large scale trees. 

Valspar stands behind their Love Your Color Guarantee.
Don’t like your first choice? The next one is on them.

Inside our 44th floor meeting room, HGTV and our Blogfest sponsors had set up lots of pretty for us to look at and interact with. Valspar paints brought their latest color palettes for us to check out. Neutrogena set tables with equally colorful cosmetics to freshen our faces. We posed in front of HGTV step and repeats and  watched as our Blogfest tweets streamed live on super size video monitors. Besides all that, we got to network with a roomful of design bloggers while we waited for our guest speakers to arrive.

with Linda Holt, Manvi Drona Hildago and Leslie Hassler

The cover of the latest issue of HGTV magazine was brought to life on our luncheon tables. Flower pot centerpieces were painted by HGTV team members with Valspar paints. Citrus brights and pretty patterns filled the room (on tables and on bloggers). Lunch was gourmet fresh. Desserts were decadent.

In between courses, presentations were made. First up was Beth Greene, Marketing Director and Strategic Brand Manager of Kravet, who welcomed us warmly. This is the third Blogfest in New York that she has coordinated. More than that, Blogfest was her initial concept: to bring bloggers together, provide them with amazing design content, introduce them to A-list members of the design field, and inspire them by providing behind the scenes access to great design. Kravet is obviously a company that puts a lot of value on the partnership they share with the design blogging community. To host over 100 bloggers and coordinate events for three days requires many hands, plus lots of genuine enthusiasm. #TheyRockedIt    

Sara Peterson, Editor in Chief of HGTV magazine was our special guest.

This year’s sponsoring publication for Blogest was HGTV magazine. Editor Sara Peterson shared her thoughts on what makes their shelter magazine original. The goal of HGTV Magazine is to provide fun, informative design content for their readers in a fresh way, just as their on-air hosts entertain viewers while demonstrating their designer tricks and DIY how-to’s. Sara mentioned that her team regularly checks design blogs, looking for content worth featuring in their magazine (no worries if the photos have already been shown on your blog!) This was good news to many of us in the audience who are looking for ways to get our work published. 

front door is Citron from Behr

A regular feature in the monthly magazine includes the “come on in!” section shown above that highlights how to transform a front door from purely functional to “wow!” Each issue is packed with usable information like this ... what products to buy, what colors to choose, you-can-do-it solutions to home design dilemas, and so much more. If you haven’t subscribed yet, get 69% off the newsstand price (exclusive offer for bloggers and their readers) when you visit 

I really love the colorful and engaging layout of this magazine, and the way they provide manageable bits of information. When I was working on New England Finery Magazine, I also preferred the “less words, more pretty pictures” approach. Who doesn’t love a pretty picture?

Our keynote speaker was designer and television personality Thom Filicia. Thom was SUPER entertaining and his work is beyond elegant. He showed lots of photos from his extensive portfolio and his latest book, “American Beauty.” Words that come to mind when describing his design aethetic: tailored, elegant, thoughtful, perfect scale, refined rustic. 

“The greatest inspiration for an interior is the person or people who are going to live there, and my goal is to connect them with a great-looking design that’
s approachable to their lifestyle, interests and points of view.”  – Thom Filicia

Color coordinated with Thom Filicia: Blogfest 2013

After Thom’s presentation, Kravet social media super star Jennifer Powell (far left) staged a little game of “How bad is it?”  which is straight from the pages of HGTV Magazine. Joining the panel was designer Alexa Hampton who stepped in for HGTV design star Candice Olson who unfortunately was unable to attend. Random questions were posed to the designers like “Fake flowers? Good, Bad or Super Bad?” (Thom’s professional opinion: “If you have to dust the water, Super Bad.”) Alexa, like Thom and Candice, has a collection of fabrics in the Kravet line. I will show you some from each designer in my next post. 

A couple of uber-talented Blogfest 2013 attendees that I was happy to connect with: Emily Anderson of Good with Style (linked to her blog in New England Finery, April 2011) and Susan Brinson of House of Brinson (was in the studio audience with her at Nate Berkus Show in NY in 2010). Meeting up with people that I follow online – and whose creativity I admire and respect – was certainly a highlight of Blogfest!   

The modern lounge at Hearst Towers.

After our lunch and learn, we left Hearst Towers for our next stop: a 5pm cocktail party at Newel Antiques on 53rd Street in East Midtown Manhattan sponsored by Interiors Magazine.

Newel Antiques is a family-owned business that has been around for over 70 years, offering six floors worth of fine art and antiques from around the globe to collectors, designers, film, television, and retail display industries. 

Newel was established in 1939 as a prop house for Broadway shows. Their pieces have made appearances in episodes of “Sex in the City as well as on the floor of Bergdorf Goodman.

Large bird cage featured in “Boardwalk Empire on HBO.

We were allowed to tour the showroom on our own, but I am pretty sure we were not alone (do you ever feel like antiques are accompanied with the spirits of previous owners?!)

Back on the first floor, I had to capture this moment of fellow Brizo blogger alums, Carrie Leskowitz, Sara Sarna and Laurie Gorelick, who looked as if they just fell out of the painting behind them.

Laurie with Beth Greene of Kravet, Adam Japko of Digital Sherpa and design journalist Clinton Smith. Blogfest was the first time that I got to meet Adam and Clinton who were both judges of the What Inspires You contest that I came so very close to winning a few years back (the prize was $10,000 and a trip to Paris!) I did end up in the top 10 finalists, however, which was pretty exciting in and of itself. Im not going to lie, though, a trip to Paris with some cash in my pocket would have been pretty exciting, too! 

Jonathan Adler was one of the guest designers at our after hours cocktail party. Linda had just won a piece of pottery from one of his collections in the Blogfest kick off party raffle held at his Madison Avenue location, so we grabbed him for a picture. He graciously obliged. #highlight

Chatting with designer Alexa Hampton at Newel was a LOT of fun! She has a way of making us every-day-kind-of-people feel equally interesting. She actually spent quite a bit of time connecting with us bloggers, asking us questions, telling us stories, and making us laugh. #mostpopular

Team Kravet: Jennifer Powell and Ann Feldstein

Getting to know bloggers Jeanne Chung and Jessica Gordan Ryan in real life.
Jessica was a contributing photographer to New England Finery, Summer 2011.

Vicki Bolinger and Garrison Hullinger with two representatives of the Ronald McDonald House which will benefit this fall by a Kravet sponsored designer show house to be held at their Long Island location. What a fabulous idea!

Jennifer Powell of Kravet with Interiors Magazines 
Editorial Director Michael Wolleaeger and Publisher Tracy Gavant

Thank you so much to our Blogfest 2013 hosts for a fabulous evening at Newel antiques! Up next ... a tour of Kravet studios. 


  1. Yvonne - AWESOME recap!!! So thrilled to be gracing the "screen" with all the other accomplished bloggers and members of the design community you've featured in this post. Best to you! Jeanne/Cozy•Stylish•Chic


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