A Kris Jenner Birthday

My latest birthday is set to arrive in a few days.  It goes without saying that I’m thrilled.  I will be 56, the age where Botox and other liquid injectables barely tighten the face and my smile turns at the downward angle.  Also age spots.  As a dark skinned Scot (yes there are some) why on earth should I have age spots.  It couldn’t possibly be from the years of basking in the sun unprotected, could it?

Now I’m not saying that I want to look like Nicole Kidman, Courteney Cox, Meg Ryan, or the other actresses who mistakenly blew up their cheeks and lips but…….And what happened to Nicole’s freckles anyway? There faces don’t move.  Real beauty is Helen Mirren and Judi Dench.

I always love when an star or celebrity claim to have never gone under the knife (except, of course, the always acceptable jug implants).  Do these people (or at least their publicists) not realize that the internet serves as a source of show and tell?  Although I must admit that the Kardashin Klan gets better and better with each procedure.  And no Kim, it’s not shading, it’s called a nose job.  Also if you’re insistent on wearing extensions, please stop playing with your hair Khloe.  This may be the only family in the world where one of the girls gets lip injections, lies about it, and now makes a fortune launching paint products.  (I want Kris Jenner as my mommy).

Lastly, the gift serenade.  Married to my gem of an ex for far more years than any sane person could possibly tolerate, I suffered on that special day a parade of salad shooters, rice steamers, fryers, and crockpots. Now I cook only twice a year and aside from the mashed potatoes, it’s catered.  And let’s not forget my beloved children.  I still have an assortment of candles of many shapes, scents, and sizes, tiny sample perfumes that come free at the cosmetic counter, facial cream to tighten the skin, a mouse pad with Mickey gracing it’s cover, and gift certificates to Starbucks (I don’t drink coffee).  A charitable contribution would be lovely especially if it came with the name Hermes or Cartier.  My birthday wish this year, outside of a chocolate cake which I prefer but every year I receive vanilla, is that Kris Jenner will adopt me.  What’s one more girl?

 

Peekabooboo

According to the great Bard, “the eyes are the windows to the soul.”  In Shakespeare’s world (or Paulo Coelho depending on the who receives the credit) that famous phrase meant that the reflection of the pupil shows one’s emotion and truth.  So if we take this analogy a bit further, could we not then claim that false eyelashes, which add mystery and sexiness, has served as one of the gateways to Kardashian success (and of course their brilliant momanger (still don’t get it). 

For design; drapery or curtains or window treatments (whichever name you prefer) frame glass and molding and tell a story.  They serve as the baby blues to your interior psyche.  Not only do they reflect your taste, station in life, childbearing years, pet ownership, and budget, they put a spin on your style (mid-century, modern, cottage, industrial, farmhouse, etc.)  

So why does fabric seem to be such a forgotten art?  Or (God help us), why do women flock in droves to Joann’s and Bed, Bath, & Beyond to buy readymade (which as a sin ranks up there with cheating on a test or a husband).  First and foremost, their colors are abysmal, their lengths are incorrect at 88 inches long which unless your home was built in pre-1972 forget about it (as they say in Jersey), and finally the widths or should I say width are laughable.  When did beautiful, plush, rich window treatments go out of style?  With the advent of blinds and shutters?  With the escalating cost?  With the difficulty of finding  competent workrooms?

Now I admit I’m a panel girl; simple, clean, and to the floor (maybe with a pinch of layered fringe), but then I have yet to learn how to put on fake lashes or contour my face.  Still a two coat mascara babe with a touch of eyeliner…You know that industrial, farmhouse, shabby, cottage, and scandi all mixed together haphazardly.  Or let’s put it in fashion terms; LBD, Chanel purse, diamond in my ears (love the pearls but necklaces, ugh), sandals or small heels, hair pulled back, and a lipstick tucked into my bra.

I tend to go for restraint but I still admire that Mario Buatta dedication to fabric upon fabric upon fabric.  It lends credibility and refinement to a living or dining room. Hell you can picture the mint juleps (or straight Bourbon) served on a silver tray by an appropriately dressed butler named Michael in Charleston (wait that’s Patricia of Southern Charm).  But my point is, every great window needs a little something; a shutter, a piece of iron, a swag with jabots, or a pair of panels that actually fit.  Windows are the portal to your décor conscious and mystery and sexiness awaits if you just play peekabooboo.  (and a little FYI to the young ladies out there; you can shop in dirty sweats, no makeup, and Target flip flops but as long as you carry that Chanel bag, the salespeople will be bouncing all over the store to help you).

 

 

Show & Tell

So you live in a place that’s short on space.  Not uncommon for college grads, big city dwellers, or idiots (like me) that had to pay their ex-husband alimony.  You want high ceilings, intricate crown molding, iron fireplaces, weathered floors, open shelving, essentially a Parisian apartment in the 50s.  But let’s face it, you live in Des Moines in a mass produced, overpriced 1 bedroom, 1 bath that leaks every time it rains.  What’s you going do???

Add a focal wall (paper, paint, mural)?  Use nesting tables instead of one big bulky coffee console that overfills the room?  Buy poufs, benches, ottomans, even folding chairs for more versatile seating?  Throw in a fabulous chandelier or a stunning floor lamp?  Contrast colors to give the idea of defined space?  Place a mirror behind a loveseat to reflect light and create the illusion of something more grand?  Hide your technology?  Use corners for bar carts or architectural oddities?  Layer rugs to define and separate?  Mix textures, metals, and fabrics?  Use different design styles like mid-century modern and boho with a touch of industrial farmhouse?  Spend high and save low?  Accept that garage sales and flea markets occasionally let lose that little slice of heaven in what seems a pile of junk?  YES, YES, & YES!  Because show and tell requires creativity not size (at least not in design).

 

Cocktails and a LayZboy

I receive a great many questions about the types of chairs available at the interior design markets in Atlanta, Dallas. and Las Vegas.  I think, largely due to magazines as well as the incredible popularity of Pinterest.  Style enthusiasts through sheer access to so much material have become more experimental in their visions.  Gone are the matching sofa and club chairs (in the blue and white checks) and the heavy oak tables.  Seeing the mixing of styles and fabrics via the vast array of media, inspire the many who like to do-it-themselves (as they configure their inspiration or mood boards), to give themselves permission to make an adventurous, perhaps even startling choice.  An overabundance of chairs exist online, at furniture stores, and in décor boutiques.  Whether it’s Nebraska Furniture Mart, Wayfair, Antique Marts, or Home Goods, the plethora almost bleeds confusion for the unseasoned traveler.

A new-old product known now as the transparent ghost chair (those made of polycarbonate) not only provide function and finesse but their used by such well-known designers as Kelly Wearstler, Martyn Lawrence Bullard, and Jean Louis Denoit, all of whom have transported acrylic into a must-have in every home study.  But then who of us doesn’t like a bit of mod funk and occasionally wish we were Patty Boyd or Lulu with the beehive hair, the heavily lined eyes, and those short, short skirts (thank you Mary Quant).

Woodmakers freshen traditional shapes by using different colors of stain, wash, and faux finishing. One no longer needs to matchy match their bottom to their tabletop.

Benches make a nice addition to a cottage, boho, shabby, farmhouse, blah, blah, blah kitchen table as it creates a warmth (especially when cradled near a cozy fireplace in sunny California).  It further extends the living space by complimenting the flow of the home and presses that color scheme.  Fabric covered settees also serve as the perfect place to sneak a nap for that cheeky little child still stuck at the dictate of reckoning until he finishes his peas.  

Chippendale designs, based on an 18th Century British look, provide elaborate elegance with their ball and claw feet.  Larger estates, manor houses, small castles (much like the Trumps dwellings) pay homage to this look (pray though with less gold adornments; God help the White House).  Others that follow suit include the Parsons, a fully upholstered seat offers a similar feel with its straight back and fabric skirts.  Queen Anne, recognized by the shaped crest rail at the back of chair, also works well in formal rooms (excuse me; salons) as do the Regency with their lovely scrolled arms, the Windsor, and the Duncan Phyfe’s and their oh so delicate curved lines.

Ladder-back, sometimes referred to as Shaker, show off the Red, White, and Blue, by enhancing Americana charm or cottage style comfort.  Rattan or wicker offer a relaxed look and work well in any number of décor styles.  And let us not forget the incomparable Eames (ah mid-century modern) but really when it comes right down to it, at Cocktail Hour, you just need a place to plant your ass.  Thank you LayZboy.

 

 

The More Shabby, The More Chic

 

Her real talents flourished after the typical messy life we all go through and she needed to find a way to make a few dollars while supporting her young children.  Turning to her own memories as a young British girl, Ms. Ashwell used her skills and began spending her time at some of the famous flea markets in California. 

Purchasing old furniture, broken light fixtures, odd pieces of teacups, she restored, refurbished, and repurposed (long before those words became fashionable).  And with limited inventory, she opened her first shop.

She followed her own road map, clarified her vision, and began an industry whose influence can be seen daily on HGTV.  Many fell in love with her creativity, her unperfected perfection, the way she mixed and the way she matched.  She made COUNTY/COTTAGE cool again, she introduced flea market swank (with a nod to the Junkyard Gals), created a surge in BOHO, and her biggest impact; the MODERN FARMHOUSE fever as seen in every magazine.  With two little words, she changed an industry.

Her use of delicate roses with crystal chandeliers worked beautifully with the time-worn elegance of salvaged screens and architectural columns.  The distressed tables she filled with old baskets, christening clothes, French soaps, and petite accessories created a balance almost impossible to conceive.  For me,

Rachel Ashwell and the way she reinvented slip covers and tucked old photos into worn shutters deserves a STANDING OVATION as it not only appealed to my aesthetic but saved several of my loveseats from two active boys.  Who knew women across the country would be deciding between the Bahamas and Round Top, Texas.  So on behalf of myself (and women everywhere) the MORE SHABBY, THE MORE CHIC!

My Favorite Things

I am a lover of all things musical: West Side Story, Gypsy, An American in Paris, and of course The Sound of Music.  This blog pertains to” My Favorite Things” a song that for me relates to style and fashion.  My obsessions range from dreamy little slip-covered loveseats to tulips displayed haphazardly in Ball Brothers glasses.  My list, perhaps a tad long shall be shortened for the sake of those readers (in my age range that require glasses much stronger than they are willing to admit).

Burlap pillows, preferably with obscure sayings in French that has little meaning in my real life, always add that “je ne sais quo” to any style sofa (well not any).  Iron, oh iron; from baskets, to jugs, to corbels, to drapery hardware creates that industrial feel to even the most modern of spaces. Pocket watches (which I collect) are placed lovingly in a Waterford bowl I inherited from my Grammy Jean and if you look closely and listen with both ears, they tell of times both lost and remembered. It’s a treasure to be passed down from generation to generation (in my case a potential daughter-in-law since I gave birth to two awkward boys (let’s hope I like her)!

The beauty of old cameras, typewriters, or any of those things used prior to the creation of Microsoft and Apple present perfect bric n’ brac for shelves and end tables.  Any well-done cottage, farmhouse, boho, or shabby home must carry at least several of these items otherwise their tributary must be revoked.  Riding trophies (tarnished, of course) and ribbons, another fondness of mine since I rode hunter jumper for so many years, adds unpolished beauty and that vertical height often needed for layering bookshelves.  Sweet little bird prints, painted wood signs, Venetian glass mirrors, framed sheet music, kid’s drawings, book jackets, crosses, metal file holders all create an inexpensive way to showcase a little of yourself to your guests and fills up a wall with something far more interesting than that landscaped inherited from Uncle Ray.

 

Other musts in my home include framed chalkboards of varying sizes, French mannequins (to hold my extensive collection of necklaces that I never wear), and perfume bottles, because their beauty is unique and since I’m “quote” a difficult person to buy for, started a trend for those unfortunate yearly birthdays.  And let’s not forget the glass, the alluring, the appealing, the luxurious clochs that hold a threshold of treasures (too many to mention.  And need I even say, the cowhide rug.  No home, no matter what style, can be complete without a deceased animal floating on a wood floor.

Every kitchen needs open shelves, a farmhouse (or apron sink), a built-in fridge, a usable island, and something fabulous on the ceiling (tin, wood, mural).  Oh and lets not forget the aged beams.  Two of my faux painters once fashioned planks into the most glorious Tuscan inspired ceiling columns that I almost wept with joy (until I say the bill).

I will end my diatribe with one of my most cherished finds; old lockers done in my beloved chippy paint.  I popped them into a mud room and from backpacks to baseball bats, they serve both style and function.  One last must have; a bench, (weathered, covered in fabric, the color and material mattered little.  Never forget the architectural goodies, those delicious salvage columns, corbels, and ladders one finds at the local flea shops.   I would gladly offer my children for the right piece.  Any takers?  So what are some of your favorite things………….

 

 

Mix It On Up

A bag of tricks used by designers to create a personal space in any home tends to weave together a set of rules bequeathed by the “STYLE GODS of yesteryear.”  For example, investment pieces (those that cost more than your child’s first year in college) should be placed front and center where visitors can ogle and whisper about the price.  We learned from the great Albert Hadley that the sofa often fulfills this glorified need, so never forget to pile on the pillows for that extra luxe as well.  It also makes it simple to change out those little poufs depending on look, season, or boredom.  The neighbors will be aghast.  Also never skimp on certain items of seating or translating that into “marriage speak” means that immediately after the honeymoon, remove any item hubby attempts to bring into the home.  And by the way, you can forget contacting Goodwill; they have their standards.  For my sake, think neutral, flexibility is important in all areas.

Lush and lavish window treatments seem to be an oddity of the past.  Today, we favor simplistic panels to add a splash of color, texture, and height.  But I must admit, I find yards of pretty fabric as a compliment such as a good set of pearls used as a finish for that little black dress.  The can amplify neutrals through use of materials, provide privacy in case of nosy neighbors, add warmth on colder days, and finish a space beautifully by highlighting specific hues.  HEY DESIGNERS go to the floor with drapery (or at least a pant break) as it makes the look appear complete (no high waters for the clients).   

When painting, remember that you have five walls (in case your expensive stylist forgot).  Look up!  Embellish your ceiling with a medallion, a mural, or a slightly lighter (or darker) color than the wall.  And don’t be shy, enamel the molding, the crown, even the baseboard.  Let the space dictate the use, and your furniture determine the colors.  And always, always, always, place a rug under your dining table.

For more interesting rooms, mix and match eras, periods, fabrics, textures, and art (this precludes neutral or tone-on-tone lovers).  And here is a great big DESIGN secret, you can mix gold and silver.  Embrace the unusual.  Always follow the rules without following the rules.  Your home should celebrate how you live much like a mirror reflects light.  Don’t be nervous about a wall of clocks or mirrors or religious crosses.  Amplify small spaces by treating them as large.  Appropriate open shelves.

Use galvanized steal, shiplap, or wallpaper (yes, I said wallpaper) in unusual ways.  An empty corner makes a great little space for an architectural piece.  Take your dining room table to from a place to eat to unforgettable by utilizing different patterns of china and crystal.  While DESIGN should follow certain dictums, always remember that you are unique, SO BABY, mix it on up.

 

 

I’m Displaying My Wares As A Designer?

The two biggest challenges I find that most young designers face in their careers are groupings and displays (or is it displays and groupings).  The culprits; children, pets, functionality, cleaning, collectibles, and finally feet on the coffee table with the greasy popcorn bowl on a Saturday night.  In another words, the homeowner has opinions on this decorating dilemma and it doesn’t always include pretty.  As designers, stagers, or stylists, we push art, clocks, crosses, or plates; setting a stage that often proves difficult for even the most seasoned professional.  It’s a love that needs to be cajoled and caressed (not just with product but with the couple involved).  No matter what style; busy or clean; English country or Regency glam, a table needs to be used (and when I say utilized, I mean with a little French oil on a plate stand, two antique candle holders with pillars, and a funky riding cap just because it adds that certain je ne sais quo.  It also helps to remember that regardless of the owners taste; industrial, retro, mid-century modern, or vintage; the principals of design remain the same; create an interesting space that affords the client a chance to learn to live with their three remote controls intermixed with some non-functional yet stunning knickknacks.  Perhaps with time, little punches of glass wear, an antique clock, or coasters embossed with horse heads will fill the space without causing the owners to hyperventilate.

Included in this décor wish or pie in the sky, the design might possibly turn to the obvious built-in shelving, fireplace mantle, or sofa table (we will not yet address the bar cart, decorative ladder, or architectural salvage piece that looks oh so perfect in that corner spot by that bank of windows behind the Chippendale sofa).  This may take time but with a bit of repartee, a smattering of humor, perhaps your homeowner(s) might share some pillow talk.  Now I’m not talking sleep-over, just a form of communication that goes beyond Madison’s latest soccer game and Kyle’s guitar solo (that gave off a Jimi Hendrix vibe) at the middle school concert.  Who knows, maybe (fingers crossed) those two wonderful people might begin to enjoy some clutter.  After all a good display always exudes a touch of shock and awe.  It’s the accessories that make a house feel like a home.  So work skillfully.  If the husband is an accountant or engineer, treat the situation as a math equation.  He will eventually catch on.  Remind the wife that chalkboards enhance a wall desk and give a cohesive look to galvanized seating the same way storage tins bring her that much closer to that Chanel wallet because of the money saved at the discount shops.  Glass cloches (found at Hobby Lobby) protect precious mementos as well as the hideous bric n’ brac received by the mother-in-law brought out only on holidays.

Group mirrors of different size and shape together and see how the light becomes more reflective in both smaller and larger room.  Soon you will using blinds, sheers, and draperies to protect those Peeping Tom neighbors.  Present with great fanfare your family’s crest of honor, your Uncle’s self-published book, or your child’s spelling bee medallion.  But just don’t forget to add height by using a few coffee table books to give that extra lifts to Aunt Esther’s coffee cup collection.  Highlight that farmhouse sink, that cost way too much money, with a lovely display of stoneware, sure to make every wife jealous at the next work related get-together.  So novice designers, learn the lessons of those of us over forty years of age; by enticing, sweet-talking, even seducing because any of us in the design profession know that displaying and grouping make a room feel complete and express hidden secrets about the family who live in the house.  I’m displaying my wares as a designer, hey stylists and do-it-yourself lovers, how about you?