Friday, December 31, 2010

Random thoughts and ringing in the New Year!

 I had big plans on doing a thought provoking New Year's post, but got too busy doing actual work today! And, I am very, very grateful for that!  As I posted earlier this week, am working on several projects that all ganged up on me right at the end of the year and I am feeling hopeful that a busy end of year means a busy new year!

So far this week I've worked up these plans for a family room:

These plans for the Bachelor Pad in Cambridge:
This bachelor and I (who full disclosure is a dear, long time friend) spent four hours (seriously 4!) at the Boston Design Center yesterday picking out fabric for the window treatments. We looked at thousands of fabrics to find the one perfect one - which means he'll be repainting his newly painted bedroom because HE DIDN'T LISTEN TO ME when I suggested he wait to pick the paint until we picked the fabric. Oh well. I asked him if I could indulge in a moment of "I told you so". He said "no". Hehe.

And we're getting ready to do the final install for a little girl's fantasy bedroom that includes this bed:

Busy, busy. And, after the last 2-3 years we've had, I am incredibly grateful!  Grateful to have several great projects with wonderful clients who respect my word and vision, but are also very clear about what they want. I love working in true collaboration with clients and have come to realize that I could never be the designer who creates and plan and presents it to the client as complete. I want to let my designs develop organically and leave the clients feeling that they own the designs as much as I do.

Speaking of grateful - I wanted to send a shoutout to my compatriots at The Skirted Roundtable - Joni and Megan without whom I'd be a sad voice in the wilderness.  They are the best partners for this adventure and I am so proud to have started something that is still going on after nearly two years (note to self: change the blog banner - it will be two years in April!). Stay tuned for our first interview coming in the new year: Suzanne Rheinstein!  I am so grateful to all our listeners and commenters for sticking with us. We're not professional reporters and I know we sometimes ramble - so we appreciate you.

I'd also like to thank all those who regularly read ::Surroundings:: - my posting has been spotty this year due to external commitments and the need to, you know, make money. And I know I've been sadly a bad blog world citizen when it comes to posting comments on other blogs. I read the posts, I can assure you. But I promise to be better! So, I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement. It means more than I can say.

I watched Paris: The Luminous Years documentary on PBS last evening and highly recommend it! A little academic, but still, it has beautiful images, music and, of course, Paris! A great way to usher in the new year!

Wishing you all the best and a Happy  New Year! I am off to spend the evening on Cape Cod with a friend eating stuffed lobster, drinking champagne and enjoying a Craig Ferguson movie marathon. A friend, knowing of my undying love for that smart and sexy Scotsman of late night tv, gave me the complete collection of Craig's movies for Christmas. Yum!  And tomorrow, I start the dreaded diet. Like millions of others. But the need is great and I'm hoping my will power will be as well!

Happy New Year friends!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

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Monday, December 27, 2010

A week of designing

This is going to be a good week. Aside from the crazy snowstorm that is still going on, this is going to be a good week. I have nothing to do but work on design projects - no external writing assignments (perhaps some blogging of course!), no teaching, no meetings. I just get to work on design projects all day every day. And, I'm lucky to have several projects to work on. I thought I'd give a sneak peak.

:: Sabrina's Bedroom: my long time client's 5 year old daughters princess bedroom is nearly completed. We're planning to get everything done within the next three weeks.

::Cambridge Bachelor Pad:  New paint colors and furnishings are on tap for this new condo.

:: New Construction Master Bathroom: a new addition for longtime clients means a new master suite to design. We're still working on completing their dining room and living room as well.

Living Room: Side table and accessories still to be completed

Dining Room: French doors to be added and molding to be applied to walls. Final paint color (something green) to be selected once lighting is installed.

So, you'll know where I'll be. Working in my office and shopping! Bliss!

If you would like my help on your next design project, please don't hesitate to contact me!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Greetings!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Kitchen in Country Woman magazine

click on images for larger view

My kitchen makeover was completed just about a year ago and I've been loving it ever since. It is my favorite room in my house. I've been very lucky that it also appealed to several media outlets including The Boston Globe, Shelterpop, Apartment Therapy and now Country Woman magazine.  I received a call in October from Country Woman asking if they could feature my kitchen and the $500 makeover process. And what was really fun was that they wanted to re-shoot the kitchen! The original photography, shot by Michael Lee, was beautiful, but it featured a cocktail bar set up that wasn't quite the homey feel Country Woman prefers. So, Michael was hired to re-shoot the kitchen which we styled with a Springtime/Valentine's tea time feel as the issue the kitchen is being featured in is their February/March issue.
What a treat to have two different photo shoots! It's amazing the different feel Michael achieved. The original set of images (see here, just click through the images) are sharper and more saturated and this new set has a very soft and romantic feel.

I love this shot because it incorporates so many elements of my new kitchen. And of course, Humpty makes another appearance!

And this shot showcases the finished insides of the cabinets and some of my collection of this and that. The camel tea pot and cups were a gift from my Aunt when I was young. The silver tea pot was a $10 fine at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market in NYC. The green teapot came to me via my great Aunt and is vintage McCoy and the top row features my Grandmother's egg cup that's a bit chipped, but reminds me of visiting her in the summer and having soft boiled eggs with soldier boys on the side.

And a final detail shot of my gathered burlap counter skirt. Counter skirts certainly elicit a lot of positive and negative comments. Many commenters on Shelterpop, AT and the Boston Globe hated it. Many liked it. I did received one suggestion that it should have been more tailored with box pleats and a black border along the bottom. And they were absolutely right! I did consider that exact design, but went with gathers because they are more forgiving. I was concerned that I wouldn't get the pleats right and the skirt wouldn't hang properly and perhaps impede me getting behind them to the storage shelves. As it is, the gathered skirt is pretty (imo) and easy to lift up, but it's also very heavy and keeping it attached to the side of the counter is a never ending battle with gravity! A more tailored skirt would have likely been taken half the fabric and been considerably lighter. Oh well.

Anyway, thank you Country Women for featuring my kitchen!

All photos by Michael J. Lee

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Skirted Roundtable: Chatting with Vicki Archer

This week at The Skirted Roundtable: Joni, Megan and I chatted with the lovely and elegant Vicki Archer of the popular blog French Essence. We chat about Vicki's amazing life among the olive grove in Saint Rémy de Provence in France and her books French Essence and My French Life.

So, while you're decorating your cookies and wrapping your Christmas presents, power up the iPod, iPad, iPhone or good old laptop and join us as we get to know Vicki and live her French life for 45 minutes. You'll get a lot done and learn something too!

Joyeux Noel!

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blissful Bedrooms Project

One of the reasons why I listen to NRP all day every day is because they do stories about topics that you will rarely if ever hear in the mainstream media. I was listening to Weekend Edition today and they did a great piece on a New York program called Blissful Bedrooms whose tag line is "Bedroom makeovers for young individuals with disabilities"™. They are a volunteer organization in New York that solicits donations and help via Craiglist, their website, and their Facebook page.

The NPR story featured Keosha's room makeover. Keosha, a 20 year old with cerebral palsey has limited use of her arms and legs, but clearly possesses star power and a megawatt smile. Her bedroom makeover turned her into the star she is, celebrating her interests in fashion and performance,  including the all important red carpet. On the practical side, the team of volunteers incorporated an iPad that could be worked with head movements and a vanity that she can roll her wheel chair right up to.

See more project photos here.

For more information on Blissful Bedrooms visit their website for lots of information and images of their inspirational projects. This is a group that clearly likes to do good for others while have great time.

Blissful Bedrooms is composed entirely of a team of committed and dedicated volunteers who have discovered that while their initial motive to get involved was to help a needy, disabled young individual, they actually found they were reaping many significant benefits in their personal lives as well. St. Francis says it best:
“For it is in giving that we receive….."

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Green and Creative Wreath Making

Deck the halls with boughs of holly... fa la la la la... Have you decked your doors yet? While an evergreen wreath is most traditional, there are wreaths in all shapes, sizes and materials. From old-school pinecones and fruits to colorful Christmas baubles that can be re-used year-to-year, here is a round-up of some pretty creative wreaths to shake things up this Christmas.

One of the most beautiful wreaths I’ve seen in a long time is this curled paper wreath made from old book pages. This is a great way to recycle the paper from an old book that might be destined for a landfill. This is an incredibly beautiful and dainty looking wreath that can be reused year to year.

Lifestyle guru Eddie Ross shows us how to make an easy ornament wreath with dollar store ornaments and a wire clothes hanger. The trick is all in the hot glue! This is an easy DIY project that can be fully customized to the color of your décor and it would make a wonderful gift. Easily stored and re-used from year to year.

These pretty fruit adorned square wreaths are made with a square grapevine base for a something a little different. Wrap a pretty ribbon and add either faux or fresh fruit (apples work great out in the cold weather) for a colorful and very naturalistic wreath. Those with faux fruit can be reused year to year. If using fresh, simply remove the fruit, clean up any bits left over and store for another year.

How cute is this nautical wreath spray made from an old chippy red painted bouy festooned with greens, berries and ribbon? During the year, keep your eyes peeled for these vintage treasures and come the holidays, you’ll have a unique decoration that will look like it cost a million.

A rummage through your drawers or a trip to the dollar store will easily net you a whole raft of small inexpensive gift boxes for this cute wreath. Simply wrap the boxes in your favorite papers (use oilcloth or plastic wrap for outdoor use) and ribbons and attach with hot glue to a basic wooden form. Add a wide ribbon to hang.

Show off this year’s Christmas cards, or collect your favorites from year to year for a memory wreath that will bring a smile to your lips and possible a tear to your eye.

If you live in certain areas, there is nothing more plentiful than natural pinecones. Collect them all fall and cover a wooden or grapevine wreath with these natural wonders. And the scent of natural pine is always a winner! You can also purchase pinecones in craft stores, but stay away from artificially scented products, which can severely irritate allergies.

This post, written by Linda Merrill,  
has been reprinted with permission 

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