Monday, June 30, 2008

Home Staging At Gregorian Oriental Rugs

I'm on the board of the New England Chapter of the IFDA (International Furnishing and Design Association) and we have regular events for networking and learning. Last week, we were treated to an evening at Gregorian Oriental Rugs for a talk on home staging. Interim Furnishings' Sharon MacDonald and Susan Durfee offered some interesting pointers on the value of home staging when selling in this market. I actually don't like the term "staging" as it seems to indicate a kind of "trick" of the eye. It's really about Home Presenting - presenting your space in it's best light. At most, you want to highlight the positive, while downplaying the negative (much like wearing big hoop earrings and a low cut top to keep the eyes off the thighs). You can't, and shouldn't, hide flaws - but you can put them in their place. You want people to focus on why they want to be there and how the positives outweigh the negatives.

In any event, the evening was lovely and I wanted to thank Scott, Susan and Sharon for a nice evening!

Some of Gregorian's amazing oriental rugs. I was walking around barefoot and ooh la la!

Susan Durfee, Scott Gregorian and Sharon MacDonald

Gratuitous cupcake shot. Aren't these amazing? Little chairs, window treatments and all. From The Icing on the Cake.

I offer home staging/presenting services both locally and nationally. Click here for more information.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Design Star 3 - Ep. 4 - Design Around the World

Well, I'm glad Michael S was sent home. I just can't stand the kind of childish behavior he was showing. And if I had to listen to another contestant spend a season saying "Ferosh", I was going to scream. Or change the channel. Michael was trying so hard to be the next Christian Siriano from Project Runway that he forgot to bring the skillz.

One thing I dislike about Design Star is the incessant need to do the cutesy things - such as lead the contestants to think they are going on a trip - when in fact it's just to an airplane hangar with their imaginations.

Anyway, they are randomly assigned countries to take their design inspirations from - Thailand, Mexico and Italy. One contestant gets to select his/her own country.

Time: 12 hours in one day
Budget: $500 at Michaels Arts & Crafts; a set of LoveSac beanbag furniture. 2 gallons of paint.

This is an individual challenge and each are given a white box to call their own.

Trish's room - Mexico

Eh... I would agree with the judges that there is little feeling of Mexico on this space and it's pretty blah. I like the white covers on the furniture - very snappy and cool feeling. I also like that she tried an interesting floor treatment, although it didn't go well with the more modern vibe of the room. The walls are pretty bad - the muted dark blue with the chartreuse blocks doesn't work too well. And I really didn't get the bamboo sticks on the lounge chairs. This was deemed "satisfactory" by the judges.

Stephanie's room - Mexico

Stephanie definitely has an interesting eye for shape - although I thought this room didn't show her best work. She was quick enough to point out that she meant it to be night time - once Martha suggested it was a little too dark. The blank canvases on the side walls really ruin the space and take away from the interesting shape of the branches above the daybed area. This room was deemed one of "the best we had this week". Not really a ringing endorsement.

Jennifer's room - Italy

Jennifer did a beautiful job on the wall treatment of this space - the scale of the pattern is perfection. She referred to Vietri pottery as her inspiration and I think she did a nice job of capturing the style:
The blue furniture covers were a little too pale and not vibrant enough for the yellow walls, but I imagine they had a limited selection of covers. Clearly, this room was the winner and once again, I do with they would actually name an Episode Winner.

Tracee's room - Italy
Well, this room was very cartooney, which was basically what she was going for. Something dramatic to pop off the tv screen. I like the pink and black combo and the chandelier was quite a nice feature. I think if she'd done more of that kind of shadow painting on the walls - including the mirror - it would have been much more successful and eye-catching. I thought the gondola was a good idea that didn't come to fruition well. Tracee ended up in the bottom group - although this was better than...

Matt's room - Thailand

Matt is totally the sweetheart of the show. He's gracious, mature and self-aware. He knew this room didn't come together: "It's like swabbing the deck of the Titanic. This ship is going down!". Yet he didn't blame anyone else or whine. He accepted the criticism like a grownup and was luckily kept in to give it another shot.

Mikey V's room: Thailand

Tacky restaurant. I said it out loud before Vern said "Thai fast food" restaurant. Really! I did like the ottomans in the middle and the banners above them. Otherwise, too literal. Mikey was in the "satisfactory" group.

Michael S's room - Spain - Michael got to select the country of his choice and because he says he's been there several times, he selected Spain. He did say he wanted an updated look, I think. Really, there's nothing wrong with this room - it's just a little bland. The floor treatment looks good to me and made the space a more interesting. Event though I said above I was happy to see him go - I actually don't think it was worse than Mikey V's or Matts. But, he was missing the Spanish feel which was the essence of the challenge, so off he goes.

Overall, Jennifer did the best. But none were mind-blowing design. I think David Bromstad is still the overall winner when it comes to putting together these white box spaces. I still remember the room he made from Pet Store finds - including the hamster shavings rug. He really got that the rooms are fake - they just need to look good on tv.

My problem with HGTV in general is that there is so little exceptional design. Most of it is "do this in two minutes for 2 bucks". It results in too much compromise. I'd love to see a show where they pit Vern Yip, Candice Olson, Lisa LaPorta and Michael Payne (please HGTV, bring him back!) against one another and see what they do with a low budget white box challenge. I think they'd be surprised at how hard it is, but viewers would still be treated to some interesting work.


Click here to read all Design Star posts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Organizing, Pt. 2: There’s only one Martha Stewart and it ain’t you

The continuing saga of teaching Peg organizational skills:

Don’t be Martha. Be you.

That’s easier said than done. Martha Stewart, minus the conviction and five months in a federal prison, is the go-to gal when it comes to anything home. She’s organized. Her home is perfect. Martha, minus the federal indictments, is perfect.

So, it’s no wonder that panic sets in when I, the imperfect, page through shelter magazines. Perfect homes. No clutter. Everything has a place to live.

“I don’t want you to be Martha Stewart,” Elizabeth Mayhew says. “Don’t worry about making your own wreaths or snow globes or the perfect cookie. Worry about getting yourself out of the house without a panic attack setting in.”

Oh. I can do that.

Elizabeth recommends that we lower our expectations. “Being organized makes you feel better,” Elizabeth says. “Clearing clutter sharpens your mind and energizes you.” Have a place for everything in your home.

“Categorize all the items in your home,” Elizabeth says.

Find out what you need. Measure. Research and then shop for a system that meets your specific needs. Toys should go in one set of bins. Kitchen utensils in another. Mail should have a home. And so should all the electronic equipment--like cell phone chargers and iPod.

“One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to purchase bins and baskets that simply won’t help you organize your stuff,” Elizabeth says. “Every household has unique needs and what works for one person (like Martha!) may not work for you.”

“Work around your life,” she says. “Don’t let anyone—even Martha—tell you what’s right for your life in your home.”

Elizabeth Mayhew, Contributing Editor on Today

Here are a few ideas to get you started. But, don't forget to measure and assess your needs!

Locker Collection at Company Kids

Elfa Kitchen Storage at The Container Store

Charging Station at Frontgate

More to come, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A little something different

This has nothing to do with interior design, but I found this video to be wacky, uplifting and quite moving. It reminds us that how we are alike far outweighs how we are different.

Check out Where the hell is Matt for more.

Meet The Artist: Christos Hamawi, Painter

On Saturday night, I attended a lovely event at the Arclinea and Rimadesio showroom in Boston. They are currently hosting an art exhibit of oil on canvas works by Christos Hamawi, whose Blue Brick Studios space is located in the SoWa section of Boston's South End.

Arclinea Boston owner Philip Guarino introduces Christos Hamawi

Artist Christos Hamawi discusses his work at Arclinea Boston on June 21st.

Christos was showing several of his still life nature paintings. My favorite was the painting on the far right of the image above, and below. I forget the name (will find out), but it depicts the floor of the ocean in Provincetown. The detail was spectacular, down to the tiny little pebbles. It took Christos two years to complete this oil on canvas work.

Christos is clearly passionate about his work and speaking with him, one can't help catch onto his enthusiasm. So, if your in the South End, check out his studio, or stop on into Arclinea so see this exhibit, which should be up through July.

This is me and my friend Rob O'Connell in front of Christos Hamawi's "Urban Wilds".

Thanks Marye Kelley!

I wanted to thank Melinda of Marye-Kelley decoupage for sending me this lovely waste basket. I just love decoupage and this was a wonderful surprise!

Here are a few more pieces from their collection:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Help for the organizationally challenged

(Linda's note: My writing partner, Peg McGuire, on our much neglected Master of your Domain blog is stepping in here with an interview she did with Elizabeth Mayhew on the skill of keeping organized. I know from experience that an organized home makes us more productive, our homes more beautiful and our lives calmer. )

How to design an organizational system for your home

I thought God handed out organizational skills like he did good hair and above-average dancing skills: If you were in the right line, you got ‘em. If you were in the line for Peanut M&Ms, you got big hips.

I use this as an excuse: I don’t have an organizational bone in my body. Therefore, no one can fault me for my disorganization. It’s just the way it is.

It’s part of my charm, I tell my engineer-husband as I search for the Macy’s bill that’s due today or the receipt for the skirt I’ve never worn.

Uh huh, he says, as he hands me the spare set of keys because he knows that I probably won’t be able to find my keys and he likes to stay one step ahead of me.

It’s just the way it is. There is no hope for the organizationally challenged

Apparently, I’m wrong. Like way wrong. We can thank Elizabeth Mayhew for cluing me in. (She’s a contributing editor on NBC’s Today. She serves as an expert on a range of topics including home makeovers and organizing, food and entertaining, style secrets, and gift giving.)

Elizabeth Mayhew

Here’s what she told me.

Getting and staying organized is a skill you can learn.
(So stop using the “I was in the wrong line” as an excuse.)

“It’s a matter of finding the right system—and then sticking to it,” says Elizabeth.

The key is to start small. “Don’t try to organize your entire life over a weekend,” she says. “Find a few key things that you can do that will help you find your keys in the morning, or that will keep the junk mail under control.”

Use baskets, she recommends. A basket to hold your keys and cell phone. As soon as you walk in the door, drop your keys into the basket. Have another basket for the junk mail. Don’t open, just drop. Once a week, recycle the mess.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

It is.

Shortly after I spoke Elizabeth, I bought some cute baskets. (This is where my husband grimaces. He’s not a basket kind-of-guy.) A week into this experiment and I haven’t had to call my husband at work asking him where I put my keys.


There's something for every style and budget when it comes to storage/organizing systems:

Large storage basket from Longaberger

2-Tier rattan display storage unit at Target

Daily storage system from Pottery Barn
Small natural fiber baskets at Crate and Barrel
Parker Designer Trays at

I’ll savor my accomplishments and think of the next steps. Tune in later this week!


I received this eye catching postcard in the mail recently from palacepapers, owned by Massachusetts native Casey Gunschel. "Dedicated to traditional craft, Palacepapers patterns are hand silk screened by skilled artisans on a variety of natural fibers and papers. Inspired by a collective fascination with the natural environment, fable illustrations and antique maps, each Palacepapers hand-drawn design lends an original and sophisticated approach to wallpaper and textiles."

I just love the whimsical nature of these prints!

Cockney in Henna

Nevermore in Blackbird (channeling Edgar Allen Poe, perhaps?)

Deerly in Roan

Nevermore in Snowbird - love this wallpapered headboard!

Check out palacepapers here.