Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maison et Objet: Piero Fornasetti VIP Suite

A fun part of my visit to Maison et Objet was access to the private Le Club suite. The suite was decorated in a very fun Piero Fornasetti theme. A great spot to relax before heading back out onto the show floor.

Wallpaper from: Cole & Sons
Chairs from: Phillipe Stark Mademoiselle chairs by Kartell
Pillows at

Sights of Paris!

I'm back from Maison et Objet - with lots of photos to share and a whopper of a cold that has laid me out flat since I returned on Tuesday evening!

So, I thought I'd share my travel pics first and then will delve into the show as soon as I get myself organized and my mind is cleared of cold medicines...

I stayed at the beautiful Scribe Hotel, which is located by the Opera Garnier and the Place Vendome. Great location! The hotel is very beautiful and the bed was sublime (down mattress pad!). The service was only so-so, the internet and tv spotty and for some reason, the two restaurants are closed. The bar was very pretty and the food there - typical lighter bar fare - was expensive but tasty. I left my laptop power cord behind and emailed them asking if it had been turned in by housekeeping - and have not received a response. Update - while they never replied to my email, they did mail me the power cord, so my so-so rating just went up a bit!

Entrance of Scribe Hotel

View from the window of my room
The bathroom

Place Vendome

Right around the corner from the hotel was a Starbucks - one of several that we saw - situated between the Sex Shop and La Chaise Longue.

A duck pond in the Tuleries.

Sculpture and Tuileries Palace near the Louvre

View of the Arch de Triomphe du Carousel. Beyond is the Louvre.

View of the Tuileries Garden looking towards the Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde down the Champs Elysees towards the Arch de Triomphe

Looking through the Arch de Triomphe du Carousel towards the Louvre Museum and the I.M. Pei Pyramid.

Sculptures and hedges in the Tuileries.

It's no surprise that we look to Europe and Paris, in particular, for what's new is fashion and design. One just needs to be there, soaking in the amazing architecture and sculpture, to be inspired!

I ended my day of sight seeing at Printemps, the big department store in Paris. The rooftop cafe offers some of the best views of the city.

I only wish I'd been able to take a better photo of the Eiffel Tower at sunset - in all its sparkling finery!

So, that was my brief photo tour of the city. Images and thoughts on the show to come!

All images by Linda Merrill.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Greetings from Maison et Objet in Paris!

Hello! Got here in one piece and am really enjoying all this show has to offer. Including this courtesy computer, since I'm experiencing unexpected problems getting my laptop connected to the internet! So, unless I can resolve this issue, I'll be posting photos of the show next week when I return. I promise you, it will be worth the wait!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A bientot!


I'm heading off today to the most amazing city in the world! I'll be blogging from Maison et Objet, plus some other pretty cool places! So, stay tuned!!

Photography by Linda Merrill, 2003

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Media Talk: My Interview on Martha Stewart Living Radio

As I wrote previously, I was asked to be a guest on the Living Today program on Martha Stewart Living Radio on the Sirius Satellite Network. I was on last Monday, January 14th, and spoke with host Kerry Nolan about how one goes about a successful redecoration or renovation plan - from dream to reality.

I wanted to share with you my bullet points from the interview:


• Think about your wants and needs.
• Look at magazines and online sources from retail websites to design blogs and pull out or print images that are appealing and create your own "Look Book" of the style, feel, color palettes, fabric. This can be as organized as a notebook with plastic sleeves and dividers, or just a bunch of images in a file folder.
• Make notations on the images of exactly what appealed. I’ve often had clients show me their look books – but then can’t remember what about a photo they liked.
• Conversely, take note of what you don't like. This can greatly speed up the process when it comes time to work with others on the project.
• Being clear about you like and what you don't like is the foundation of a successful plan.
• Research can broaden your scope of what’s available. I’ve had clients state very strongly a dislike- such as flowers. I’ve been told – absolutely no flowers. But, they may have really meant 1980’s Laura Ashley type cabbage patch roses and not a more modern tropical or stylized botanical print. This is why taking the time to look at various images is so important.
• Share your ideas and thoughts with your spouse/significant other. Make sure you’re on the same page before you bring in third parties. The last thing we want to hear in a meeting is one person saying saying “this is what we want” and the other looking surprised and saying “really?”

• Research costs and plan your budget.
• If you haven't done a redecoration or renovation project in a long time, or in your geographic location, it's wise to check out what things cost.
• From labor to materials - you can get a quick idea of pricing by making a few phone calls to local service providers and checking online at retail stores.
• If you're doing a kitchen, visit some kitchen showrooms – from big box stores to smaller private dealers and simply chat about your plans and ask for rough ideas of price. Nothing is hard and fast at this point, but it will help keep the shock value of the final price in check. You’re looking to establish ranges at this point.
• Once you are in the ballpark for your plans, seriously question if you can afford it. Be honest with yourself. If what you expected to pay doesn't match reality - then revisit your design plans and focus on needs. You can pick and choose what you do now versus later.
• Start pulling together referrals for contractors/designers. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to this vetting process. From making calls from the yellow pages or an internet search, to asking everyone you know whom they’ve used. Mostly, listen to your gut. You will be working very closely with this person for upwards of several months and you want an open, honest, two-way communications.
• At this stage, any reputable service provider will be happy to discuss – either on phone or in person – your project and give you a rough idea of pricing. Be honest about your time frame and be willing to share your budget range. We can’t help you without knowing all the important information.
• With all this information pulled together, you will be able to accurately assess whether you are being realistic with your budget and plans. If one is out of balance – then it needs to be reworked. More often, it’s a give and take between the two.


• Having done your homework in steps 1 and 2 will help put you in the drivers seat when it comes to bringing in the professionals.
• If you have a clear and realistic vision of what you want, then you can better share that with your professional team and you will ultimately get more of what you wanted and spend less doing it. Time spent in the front end saves time on the back end. And when paying third party professionals: time = money.
• Never be embarrassed about sharing your budget. A reputable service provider will work with you and help you figure out how to get the most from your money and they will be honest with you if they feel that you cannot do your project based on your estimated budget. They really are not looking to make you spend more. But sometimes, spending more is the best choice – better materials that will last longer.
• Clear and honest communication is key.
• Be willing to say: I like this, I don’t like that; I want this, I don’t want that.
• Admit when you don’t know something.
• Ask for advice, but don’t pit one member of your contracting team against another. Always vet your decisions with your lead team member, whether it be your designer or general contractor.
• Respect their expertise and they will respect your wises.
• Patience. Be patient when making decisions. I've seen more bad choices made due to lack of patience or focus in the process.
• Don’t let someone rush you, but do respect the work process and understand that a delay on your end can result in project delays, loss of materials and higher costs.

So that's it! I'm sorry I can an actual transcript or audio of the interview - as it was a really good one with Kerry Nolan. But, I hope you will find these tips to be helpful!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Maison et Objet - Video Profiles

There are lots of interesting videos and interviews on the Masion et Objet website. Click here to view video interviews with furniture designer Pierre Paulin and interior and product designer Kelly Hoppen.

Mr. Paulin has designed some iconic modern furnishings, such as these, as seen on ArchiTonic.

Kelly Hoppen was named Creator of the Year by Maison et Objet.

I leave in three days, can't wait!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Get that Look: Jane Austen's Bath (hold the bubbles)

Last weeks' presentation of "Persuasion" on WGBH/PBS' Masterpiece ended with our heroine Anne Elliot taking off on an improbable run through the streets of Bath, England, in search of the man she loves. Improbable because a lady of that time would never have acted so inappropriately - running in public after a man, without her hat and showing off her legs as she raised her skirts to be able to traverse the wet cobblestones in relative safety. On the other hand, this was the man...
... and from my twenty-first century perspective, I can't say I blame her. However, those who are much more expert than I on all things Jane, such as my friend Vic (aka Ms. Place) of Jane Austen's World and Jane Austen Today and her circle of "Janites" have roundly criticized this ending. And my more intellectual side agrees with them. This was a time for women when manners and social standing was all that stood between respect and pity, and at worst, destitution. So, attention to these details becomes part of telling the story, much as the set decor.

Anne's run for love was set in Bath, England in front of the Royal Crescent, designed and built by architect John Wood the Younger in 1761-65. Here's a very funny video of this scene set to music:

Designer Judith Miller's 1987 book "Period Details: A Sourcebook for House Restoration" includes several photos of the Royal Crescent.

Interior images of the Royal Crescent

"These interiors (in Royal Crescent, Bath, England designed by the Wood family) show a delicacy and liveliness indebted to the designs of Robert Adam, whose work became influential from the middle of the 18thC. Adam treated classical motifs with an unprecedented lightness and simplicity, and subordinated every detail to overall conception" - from Period Details by Judith Miller.

"These two fireplaces from a Georgian house in Bristol show the late 18thC fondness for exquisite decorative details. Such fireplaces were always intended to be painted white to add to the overall effect of airy grace" - from Period Details by Judith Miller.

Dining room scene, Persuasion movie set, 2007. Note the fireplace in background.

Image of bedroom in Royal Crescent, courtesy of Period Details by Judith Miller.

The set decor for these movies is a feast for the eyes and a lesson in period detail. And yet, nearly everything we see in these images can be used in 21st century homes. Style lives on!

Tonight on PBS, we have Northanger Abbey. I wonder what beautiful English architecture and interiors await!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Traditional Home - Auction for Heart Health

The color of love, power and glamour – whether in fashion or in furnishings – now has an objective more precious than any aesthetic value. Red is the color to endorse heart-health awareness and February is the month to do just that. Log on to through Feb. 29 for a “red” auction to benefit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Heart Truth Campaign. A great cause!

Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Romance in the bedroom

How fabu is this ribbon quilt at Brocade Home? I feel the need - to shop!

And these:

This blue spread isn't my color - but it's pretty luscious!

I do love the crispness of these green and white designs, don't you?