Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Travel Tuesday: Yellow and Red Parisian Rental

I came across this adorable little rental apartment in my internet wanderings and it prompted me to resurrect my Travel Tuesday series. Located in the Bastille neighborhood of Paris, the Cort Demoye Apartment is a tiny jewel box brimming with Parisian charm. At a small 430 sq. ft., it sleeps up to four. 

The apartment building is located on a truly romantic looking pedestrian only walkway. The apartment itself is a 3rd floor (that's 4th to us Americans) walk-up - but the climb is surely worth it.

Recently renovated and decorated (no children under twelve or pets allowed), the apartment is filled with classic French country style.

How truly "French" is this small window seat, casement windows and scroll work iron gate overlooking the neighbors roof.

The living and dining room spaces are fairly small and spare, but certainly comfortable looking.

I always love a curtained room entry and this one does a nice job of separating the surprisingly large (by European standards) kitchen from the main living area.

The Pièce de résistance of the apartment is undoubtedly the jewel box of a master bedroom. The jaunty yellow walls with matching yellow bedding and yellow and white Toile fabric coverlet is really breathtaking. The queen size bed clearly takes up nearly all the space, but the efficient closets, mirrored walls and shelves behind the bed really enhance the space.

Note the wall angle by the window - clearly, this is the top floor of a classic Mansard roof building.

The bathroom in the Master bedroom includes a sink and bathtub with shower.

The WC is located off of the front entry and is papered in a fabulous yellow and gold stripe. Even the vanity door fronts are striped.

The rent for this cute little apartment ranges from 850 to 975 Euros per week, depending on how many people are staying. There are also discounts for length of stay, with stays ranging from four days to three months. As anyone knows, staying in an apartment and living as the locals do is truly the best way to get to know a place. And I do think this little apartment in the Bastille is one to keep note of for future trips to my favorite city!

And now, a little French ambiance brought to us by the fabulous Vicki Archer of French Essence blog:

And this final image is by photographer Anne Henning. I have this framed photograph that is printed on watercolor paper in my collection - purchased at an auction a few years ago. I just love it.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Design Bloggers Conference Hall of Fame Winners

I wanted to send a little shout out to the just announced winners of the first annual Design Bloggers Conference Hall of Fame. First, let me say that I am not actually at the conference. It just didn't fit into my schedule or budget this year. But if you follow the hashtag #dbc2021 on Twitter, you can nearly feel like you're there - you know, without the warm LA weather (warmer than New England, at lease!) and all the hugging and air kissing.

A big congratulations to:

Toronto-based designer Meredith Heron's blog Sashay won best new design blog.

Atlanta based writer Jennifer Boles' The Peak of Chic won for best writing on a design blog.

Seattle based Cassandra Lavalle's blog Coco + Kelley won for best graphics and photography

Arkansas designer Tobi Fairley's blog won for best overall design blog.

Now, not to take away from any of these ladies and their accomplishments - they are all worthy winners - but I have had some thoughts about the entire Hall of Fame concept from the beginning. First off: to me, the concept of a Hall of Fame denotes not only exceptional achievement, but longevity and community service.

For that reason alone, I had voted for Grace Bonney's Design*Sponge for best over all design blog. After all, how can you not choose the person who really was the forefront of personal design blogging? She very nearly created the genre and inspired a thousand other blogs, mine included. Her Biz Ladies Meetups across the country were huge successes and showed that she was as interested in supporting women in business no matter how tiny.

I voted for Holly Becker's Decor8 for best graphics and photography. As with Grace Bonney, Holly has been at the forefront of design blogs, has legions of followers and through her course offerings in design blogging, many new bloggers have been nurtured. Additionally, her blog is very well designed and her own photography has gotten quite good over the years and truly establishes and supports her brand.

In the category of best writing, it was for me a toss up between Patricia Shackelford of Mrs. Blandings and the aforementioned winner Jennifer Boles. As far as I'm concerned no other design bloggers are writers of the same caliber as these ladies.  I voted for Patricia simply because I really am in awe of her ability to mash-up a completely unrelated anecdote of her life with a series of beautiful images and somehow it all makes sense. Plus, she's a beautifully spare writer - a quality I certainly lack. Both Jennifer and Patricia have parlayed their writing skills into gigs for House Beautiful and Architectural Digest, respectively, and it's no wonder. 

As I said, this is not to disparage the work of the winning bloggers at all. They are all amazing and worthy of accolade.  I simply wanted to send a quick shout out to the bloggers whose work I admire and have done for many years. Brava to all!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

A Little Friday Pretty

Nicky Haslam's French Farmhouse in the Wall Street Journal. The simple textures, luxurious antiques and country feel are just to die! (photo by Simon Upton)

Butler's Pantry design by Meg Braff featured in this month's House Beautiful. I love, love, love green and this tiny space, described by Meg as a "little green jewel box" is perfection, including the well worn carpets. (Photo by James Merrell)

Ukraine born, New Jersey based Vladimir Kanevsky creates the most amazing porcelain flowers which, as Carolyn Roehm put it "almost compete with Mother Nature".  His works are featured in the Wall Street Journal in their story "Porcelain Flowers Never Die". He also has the most enticing first page on a website I've seen in a long, long time.  Spectacular on a big screen!

Hope you enjoyed a little Friday Pretty and have a wonderful weekend. I just booked a trip to Bermuda Birthday Bash trip (not going till August!) so am dreaming of blue/green waters and pink sands!  Meanwhile, a few of us on Twitter are thinking we might need to form a Downton Abbey support group - who's in?

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Downton Abbey: Putting Downton to bed for the season

Okay, first let me say that I think it's good this series is over. For me at least. I believe I have spent more time on this one post than is good for me. So, we have finished Season 2 with a murder trial, a proposal and some awfully pretty snow scenes. For this last post of the Downton Abbey season (what WILL I find to blog about next year when it comes back!) - I am focusing on the bedrooms.

Eldest daughter Lady Mary's bedroom is the setting for many scenes of the Crawley sisters and their mother, the Countess Cora. Not to mention the demise of the unfortunate Mr. Pamuk. This is clearly the hangout room and I don't believe we ever saw other other sisters' rooms.

Cora, Countess of Grantham's bedroom was light and bright as compared to the other bedrooms. I did note, however, that the bed changed between season 1 and season 2. The image below is one of the room as it is today.

Robert, the Earl of Grantham made use of a small bedroom and dressing room adjacent to his wife's much larger bedroom. It tended to be fairly modest in decor, although it does feature some pretty spectacular clothes cupboards.

A busy house, DA was always filled with guests, so we got to see several different guest rooms. Upper left features a well decorated room befitting the status of the Duke who slept there. (He had status, but was a creep!) Upper right is the room set aside for Sir Richard, Mary's overbearing ex-fiance. Note the image below shows this same bedroom as it is today with the curtains wide open. Lower left features a lovely bedroom that was given to footman William as he lay dying. He was accorded this honor because he saved the life of Matthew, the future Earl of Grantham. Before dying, he married kitchen maid Daisy. Lower right is the bed sweet Lavinia, Matthew's fiance, died in of Spanish flu. I believe that the yellow bedroom below is this room as seen today.

By contrast, the servants bedrooms are very simple and neutral in tone. Not uncomfortable looking, they have a sweet homey feel to them. It is notable that Mr. Carson, the Butler and highest ranked in the staff would have a finer bed and room than do the rest of the servants (image 3).

And below is my weekly "Get that Look" to create a fairly close copy of a DA bedroom. Click the image to go to all the links for these beautiful furnishings.

And below, I imagine a more modern take on a Downton Abbey bedroom for a modern couple. Perhaps Matthew and Mary's descendents? Some furnishings would be the same as they ever were, and others might be a little bit updated. Click here to Olioboard for more detail.
Additional links for Downton Abbey:
  • In the event you can't wait till January 2013 to get your Downton fix, click here for a very fun set of paper dolls - so you too can play mischief with the lives of the folks both upstairs and down. 
  • Live the Fine Life Blog offers a take on a completely different space - Aunt Rosamund's London townhouse. Very sophisticated!
  • And finally, I wanted to acknowledge the work of the art director and set decorator's on this show. While much of Highclere Castle is used as is, there is still a considerable level of attention to detail that goes into creating the right look for a period drama: Donal Woods, Production Design; Mark Kebby and Charmain Adams, Art Direction; Judy Farr and Gina Cromwell, Set Decoration. All were nominated for Emmy awards this year.  
Whew! Good night Downton, until 2013!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Meeting Annie Selke of Pine Cone Hill and Dash & Albert Rug Company

(l-r) Linda Merrill, Erin Gates, Leslie Fine, Julianne Covino, Annie Selkie, Marni Katz, Tara Bellucci

Last week, all the great ladies from the Annie Selke Companies invited a small group of design bloggers for an intimate dinner at Sel de al Terre in Boston.  In addition to meeting up with this great group of bloggers: Erin Gates - Elements of Style; Leslie Fine - Leslie's Blog; Julianne Covino - Create Girl; Marni Katz - Style Carrot; Tara Bellucci - Apartment Therapy; and Kara Butterfield (not in pic) of Boston Magazine's new blog Roost - we got to meet the creative force behind this successful Massachusetts based brand - Annie herself. Located in the Berkshires in Western, MA - Annie's companies include Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert Rug Company and Annie Selkie Home. 

I've specked products from these companies for years. Great quality combined with fresh designs and colors always makes a winning combo.

A recent project using several Annie Selke products - perfect for a little girl's room. Great quality with a fun color palette.  A nice feature is that many of the fabrics in the ready made products can be purchased by the yard. Not shown are the roman shades made from Edelweiss Crewel fabric - they are gorgeous. (professional photos coming soon!)

And here is an old snapshot of a guest bedroom that I did several years ago. The round braid rug in the foreground was Dash & Albert, although they no longer show this style on their website.

Contrary to these above projects, I don't only do pink decorating projects and Annie Selke doesn't only have pink products! 

How cute are these Dash & Albert tote bags made from their woven rugs? Part of our fabulous dinner included a swag bag - and these were the bags. I am loving my Tiki Stripe bag and will be excited to bring it along when I go to Bermuda this summer - the perfect shopping/beach bag.

Our bags also contained some beautiful pillow cases, napkins and the softest, cuddliest Sheepy Fleece bathrobe I've ever seen. 

Best of all, we received a copy of Annie's new book Fresh American Spaces.

This new book encompasses Annie's eye for fresh and inspiring looks, breaking them down into categories: Refined Romance, Cultured Eclectic, Nuanced Neutral, Happy Pretty and Everyday Exuberance. There are photos of beautiful rooms of all styles and tips on how to bring these looks alive in your own home. Click here for Annie's blog and more about Fresh American Spaces.

My thanks again to everyone who made this wonderful evening such a success. You're all a great group of women and really know how to throw a party!

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