The Design Process . . . Our New Colors . . and A Fun Shoot.

Hey There . . .

While 2013 was amazing, I am ready for even more surprises in 2014.  At the office, Mekenzie and Bree have both hit an anniversary and  I realize constantly just how lucky I am to have such professional women who not only know their jobs, but have my back.  Maggie joined us not too long ago and each day I realize what a good decision that was.  Carson, too, is all about the details, and Betsy, who I've known for about 15 years has taken the one thing I hated to do . . . the books . . . away from me (joy!) I have such an amazing team and I just want to take a minute to recognize them all and thank them for what they do for me each and every day.

Yesterday,  Mekenzie shot a new picture for our new website.  Just shortly after that shot, The Scout Guide came in.  Chris Edwards, photographer and Hobby Sherman, editor, were there to shoot for the upcoming 2014 issue. I am such a fan of that publication, it's a great source for the Best in Charlotte, not to mention how beautiful it is, thanks to Chris's gorgeous photos.  I can't wait to see ours !   It was a fun day.  We created a back drop of amazing wall papers all in the color palate of the new showroom look.  Working with rich, saturated plums, golds, olive, blacks and fuchsia, I pulled a few of my favorites from Scion, Trove, Calico, Clarke & Clark, Osborne & Little.  Stark's Ikat rug, a Dune & Dutchess Floor Lamp I love and Pacific Green's white leather and wood chair were the finishing touches.  Take a look at our finished pic, by Mekenzie  (and yes, I am still short in 3" heels !!)

It turned out just as I had imagined.  Love. Thanks Mekenzie and Jill at Sloan - for some really fab duds.

I am in the midst of a re-design at the showroom and now that the website is updated, this "contact" page is reflective of the new showroom colors.  I fell in love with this palette when I saw these images of Ralph Lauren's Fall 2013 / Winter 2014 Runway Show.  I want a rich, saturated look.  Something enveloping, with a touch of whimsy that will always be a look I am drawn to.  The showroom will have . . . in my mind . . . the feel of these designs.  I was inspired by Mr. Lauren, but put my own spin on it.

So 2014 is a new year, I am excited to do some new things, create something I haven't done before, play with new color combinations - mix it up.  I have several new jobs coming down the pike and creating something special and unique for each client is always the goal.  I have always felt that if you hire a professional designer, you have made the decision that orchestrating all the details involved in creating something beautiful is hard to do if you don't do it on a regular basis, but more importantly you want something unique that isn't in every mail order catalog or Internet site.  I hear all the time that finding special pieces isn't the problem but mixing those pieces in a whole room or home and pulling it all together is the problem.  Designers, good ones, can see the whole picture and have the experience not to make those common mistakes that often happen with size and furniture quality.   So do I think designer's are worth it, yep.  We figure it out, order it (deal with damages on occasion) and install it. Voila.  Remember this... those websites out may also have a piece your designer is proposing, but did that website put it all together for you . . .

Your home should express your personality and designing a space that you love to come home to can cure the worst . . or dullest of days.  That doesn't mean it always has to be more expensive, more over the top, it just means unique and comfortable.  I love the hunt as well as the re-purpose.  Sure, it's easy to fill a room with expensive, cohesive pieces - all with similar lines, colors, textures and finishes, but in my opinion (and I emphasize this is just my opinion) it can be dull and lack your true personality.  I really love the mix-up.

Isn't your home your refuge?  I come home to relax and surround myself with things I love, things with history and sentimental value.  Things I still, years later, love to look at.

When looking for help, do your homework.  Look at a designer's portfolio, read referrals, spend some time together.  This type of work is personal.  I get a glimpse into peoples lives.  I get to know their lifestyle, their routines, what their kids are like and even what their dogs are like.   When I meet a new, prospective client I take a good, hard look at their existing space, and I pay attention to all the details. Most of my clients come to me for one of two reasons, they've hit a wall or just don't know what to do. They want direction, decisiveness, new ideas, they don't want to deal with all the ins and outs of making something happen.  They want a creative eye.

I recently spoke with a new client about how hard it was for her to make a decision and how she appreciated and needed a professional who would take that anxiety away.  I can be direct and opinionated, especially when it comes to design help, it's my job.  I recently read a blog post by a, let's call her decorator, an inexperienced one clearly, talking about her indecisiveness.  She wrote that she not only couldn't pick a restaurant, changed her clothes 3 times before leaving the house, looked at 52 houses before making a decision and now when designing her own new master bedroom couldn't decide on that.  My first thought was this girl lacks experience, and putting a comment like that out there would be the one reason I wouldn't hire her.  Hum... not sure I would feel at ease knowing I was putting my trust (and a lot of money) in someone that wasn't direct, wasn't solid in their design choices, and lacked much confidence.  Do you your homework when looking for help.

We are a mess that's for sure... Mekenzie managed to capture the real us . .   I am putting out some sort of text fire and getting everyone involved in it !!  Keith looks totally bored and wants to leave, he has art to finish.

If you don't know us.. allow me to introduce . .  so you can put a face to the voice.

moi (thinking . . . where am I supposed to be next ?)

Betsy - the $ girl

Maggie - my design assistant, great style, and go to when you can't get me on the phone.

Bree - all orders, all details, orchestrator, the one with (most of ) the answers !

Carson - runner, special projects, woman of many talents.

Mekenzie - my fab photographer in tow

So keep on the look out for The Scout Guide 2014 and I'll keep you posted on our showroom install!

Happy Snow Day !!!

What's Coming Up . . .

Hey There . . .

Can't believe it's gonna snow today . . . really?!  I am actually putting on heels for a photo shoot at the studio today . . . Backdrop all set up, ready to go, hoping Charlotte doesn't come to a standstill and we can get this done.  Think they are calling for 1 -2 inches . . . I mean really.  It wasn't that long ago I lived in the North East, and we would be literally digging out our cars to get to work.  But being that I now have a bunch of northerners working with me, I think I will see their faces this am ready to be all styled up for the shoot.  Stay tuned, I'll give you a sneak peak.

In the meantime, been working til the wee hours over the past week on a few new projects, and really excited to get them all underway . . . Welcome 2014 . . 

Enter the Egan's.  New home, new construction, new look.  They have a great room, an empty one. that includes a large eating area and flows into the open kitchen.. Great floor plan.  The request, "let's try yellow."

I proposed a sectional in a neutral.  It's a go-to, but always a great choice to not only define the space, but give the whole family a place to sit, lounge, and watch TV.  The main focal point in this space are the built ins which I plan to either paint yellow or surprise them with a little yellow grass cloth.  The other focal point are the windows.  I found this new ikat.   So pretty.  It will add a lot of color and pattern to a neutral space and set the tone.  Another fun element are the benches on either side of the kitchen table.  Both covered in a flat weave graphic rug... texture and tough, a good combo.

Take a look at all the details.  It's a great start for the Egan's new home !

My friend, and return client,  Shari is back to finish her first floor.  The only room not tackled, the large kitchen that opens into a sitting / family room.  Not the main TV watching room, but more of a kitchen overflow sitting area.  We have been working on updating the entire first floor using creams, robins egg blue and our latest introduction -  a touch of green, both grass and kelly.  With her beautiful collection of green glass, showcased in a tall built in, I wanted to pull that color in the room, just in the form of touches here and there.  Kitchens and sitting areas can tend to be naturally busy with all the "kitchen stuff," so we are streamlining the colors in this space.

With this room flowing into a kitchen of cream cabinets and light counter tops, this clean and updated space will be easy on the eye and really let the beauty of the outside view come in.  A new sofa in a light latte, a fun side chair in kelly polka dots and two latte leather swivel chairs to either converse with company or spin around to see what's going on in the kitchen.  Leather - to accommodate two big dogs that rule the roost.

Another Sheri, Ms. Sayman . . . Happy to jump in and give her a hand.  She so patiently waited until my scheduled opened up.  I am looking forward to giving her a game plan for her first floor.

I have one main thing to work around, two colors she is already using -   Navy and Teal.  Finding that one other fabric to tie these two together was my challenge and this ikat below did the trick I think.  We meet tomorrow, so we'll see what she thinks.

Also recently renovated, her kitchen is a beauty in it's all white and pale grey.  I love what she had done.  It's my job to make the family room equally as pulled together and updated.  I started with two flanking teal cabinets she had made and worked off that adding a rug, windows, sectional and lots of accessories.

When we finish the family room,  we hopefully can move forward, into the dining room, foyer and living room and tie them back to the family room.  Using her existing dining table and great Jonathan Adler chandelier, I want to add one of my favorite papers by Celerie Kemble.  It would be the main focal point.  Love.

Moving into the front living room and having two copper chairs to contend with, I am loving how they will warm up the greys.  The ikat fabric with it's navy, teal and copper is perfect to bring it all together. I want to use their existing sofa with a large distressed mirror to anchor an off center window, and a long hide bench for something different (not sure if they'll go for that, but we'll see).

And then there is Sara Skelton.  Soon to be married, first home together, needs a look, a plan . . . a color scheme.  Take a look at all these seemingly mismatched fabrics, rugs, and paper and how I hope to pull them together !

I am working to create a look for the entire downstairs, a look that will carry you from room to room, yet each have it's own personality.

The living room is long and runs into the dining room.  I want to use a combination of yellow and teal with splashed of a brighter green.  Take a look . . .

I worked on the front living space for two reasons... I wanted to give her a whole look, but mainly to show her how it would tie back to the family room which we are working on first  . . .  (also - getting that new husband happy with his TV watching space will help us in our quest to do some really fun things in the front room and dining room - there is a method to the madness !)

This space has pine panelling in it's entirety.  Rather than ripping it all out, I actually want to keep it and stain it in a grey wash.  I like the texture.  The new sectional will be pulled away from the french doors but centered in the room for optimal TV watching.  A killer wall sconce, dog friendly rug and coffee table. Leather chair and rope covered bookcase.  Kind of love.

With their wedding approaching, we decided to add Lucy and Company to her Registry !  Maybe some of the guest will help fill this new home with the goods !!!

All different, I am excited to get them installed !!!  Now off to the office to meet the glam squad for the shoot.


Drawing on . . .

Hey There . . .

I love a good idea.. and this is one of them..  I came across it recently somewhere out there and tucked it in the back of my mind the next time I wanted to shoot my kids at home (we have a big chalkboard wall our kitchen).  It's a simple way to call attention to the subject and not lose them in a cluttered background !

and today was the day . . . Lucy's first Homecoming Dance - Gatsby Style . . . so my tip of the day, pay attention to your backdrop . .

photos by mekenzie france

Happy Saturday Night !


How Jen Garrido and Windy O'Connor Inspired Me.

Hi There . . .

It was back to business last week at the office, but in the midst of boring year end paperwork came the go ahead on two new jobs to brighten my day.   I worked over the holidays designing two additional spaces for two of my favorite clients.  I say "worked" but during my down time designing these two spaces wasn't exactly "work," in that I was more than excited to play with ideas for these rooms.  I love both of their styles and what we created thus far turned out amazing. I have been working throughout their homes room by room, and now we are getting really creative with two fun areas, a landing lounge and a music room.  Two spaces that were not high priority in the beginning, but now that the major living spaces have been finished, it was time to put the icing on the cake and that is what these two rooms will be.

I wanted to write about two artists - Jen Garrido and Windy O'Connor.  Both of these artists were my inspiration for both of these installs!  Finding inspiration can come from anywhere, but in both cases a piece of art gave me direction.

Jen Garrido is a San Francisco based artist whose work my eye a while back and I have always kept her in my mind.  Take a look at a few of her pieces. . 

In her Artist Statement she says . . .

I construct my paintings and drawings by using a delicate balance of choice and process.
In response to personal narrative and internal dialogue, to the push and pull of the compositions internal gravity, and to the medium of the paint or drawing materials, I project images and forms onto the surface. As I compose, I weave shapes through the picture plane, the gestures I record can read alternatively as flat or as dimensional and sculptural. I favor nature-based forms and rhythms and I am drawn to shapes that tangle, overlap, sit, lean and lay. In my most recent work, the compositions balance between architectural and organic, painted and drawn, collapsing and firmly rooted and formal and biomorphic.
As I work through the multiple stages and processes of each piece, by weighing ambiguity with representation, by adding and subtracting, abstracting and transforming, I gradually arrive at the final composition.

Now these pieces of art have always stayed with me and when Molly Mudd, my fabric guru introduced me to Pedroso & Osorio, I thought to myself . . Jen Garrido- ish, in a fabric, perfect.   This one fabric inspired the room and tied back to the dining room we installed not to long ago.

We created a dining space of navy lacquer love and in the music room across the hall, I wanted to bring the feel of the dining room art in, but in a lighter version.

I created these boards to give her a visual.  I chose to bring the grey on the walls in this amazing printed, graphic grass cloth, by my favorite Phillip Jeffries.  The navy makes a return in the area rug by Stark.  The navy version of one of my favorites Antilocarpa.  This rug is so gorgeous !  The curtains, however, are the jewel in the room.  With it's large repeat, we are creating wide panels extending out from the windows and hung high.  

In this room, we are also incorporating a splash of coral in an occasional chair.  This coral is the accent color in the nearby family room.  The flow in this home is really coming together.  Not overly matched, but relate to each other.

We started ordering all the goods last week and installation cannot come quick enough ! I was thrilled she loved the look at first sight, not changing a single thing.  Full vision will come together !

Susan Brown and I met not too long ago at Hidell Brooks Gallery to look at art together.  With all the amazing pieces it was a hard choice, but one piece in particular we found perfect.  The size was right, and the colors were right.  Windy O'Connor shows her work with Rebecca and Katherine at Hidell Brooks and she had recently brought over several new ones.  After the purchase I got to work on the design.  She has a landing area at the top of her stairs, large enough for a sitting area.   Take a look at our purchase . . .

I love Windy's use of color and texture.  All of her pieces have such amazing depth.  Here are a few more . . .

Windy's Statement . . .

"Though I often work on large, non-representational abstracts, I always have a thought or feeling that I represent on the canvas. Many times it is a collection of visual memories or feelings. My goal is to convey a story through color, texture,  marks, and movement. I will abstract many objects in a piece and convey emotions through the energy produced by my thick layers of paint and knife work. I love creating compositions with color blocking, lines, combinations and rhythm of color. The act of painting is where I find the greatest joy!  Mostly, I am grateful to be able to practice the thing that I love until I am a very old lady."

This space is visible from the downstairs living area we finished last year.  I wanted to create something cozy yet a little more saturated in color.  The soothing strie paper I installed in the entire downstairs extends from the living room down stairs over the railing to the landing on one wall.  On this wall, I wanted a console, I knew that, but with our art purchase, I filtered in a juju hat pulling the teal from both downstairs and Windy's art to add a little balance, color wise.  I chose each piece carefully, each having a big artistic presence, each of a different material.  We have a horn lamp, copper sculpture hide storage ottoman and metal back chair.  The console is a combination of white lacquer, walnut stain and gray wash stain.  Isn't it killer !

But the big focal wall includes her new art purchase as well as dark, teal grass cloth for a real pop.  This paper is a F. Schumacher that Maggie found for me in just the perfect shade.  We are adding a new sofa in a grey velvet, layering a rug over the carpet, and an occasional chair.  The pair of thin black lamps create low lighting for warmth.  All these colors compliment what we have going on over the railing downstairs yet are much richer.  I can just see curling up an reading with a great view over the rail of the living space and back patio.

The view from over the railing.

Really excited to get these both installed, stay tuned . . .