Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank You Notes and The Law of Reciprocity

I had my birthday, and I got gifts. So I sat my butt down and got out stationary and a pen and an old fashioned address book, and I wrote out my thank you notes. I always put off doing this, not because I am ungrateful bitch, but because I just find it hard to do even when I 'm doing nothing but watching Dancing With The Stars. Once I start I enjoy it.
My notes are short; my handwriting has gotten awful. Still, as I write each card I can see the person I am writing to, and see the gift they brought to me, and I don't know, it just makes the whole experience so pleasant. I feel so civilized writing notes, like the lady my mother trained me to become.
Doing so many things on line can make one take short cuts in the old etiquette department. Like many friends read my blog, but they don't comment, so I don't know if they've read it or not. So when I see them, and I start telling a story, and it's something I wrote about on the blog, their eyes kind of wander like I am boring them to fucking tears. And then it dawns on me, and I say bitch did you read that on my blog? Why don't you comment so I know you read it? Hey, I got fresh material, just give me a chance.

This happened on the phone the other day. If you know me you know I hardly ever ever talk on the phone. I don't twitter. I don't text. I'm lucky I write a blog and e-mail. So when a very nice new blog friend actually called me, and we started dishing about HGTV, other bitchy blogs, etc. I started to hear that cricket sound effect they use on TV when there's what used to be called a pregnant pause. A fucking pregnant cricket pause.

So how do you deal with that? Do you have to preempt every conversation, with a question, like have you read my blog lately, and will it bore you if I talk about it in person (or on the phone)? It's really hysterical when you think about all the overlapping blog conversations with the live-person conversations. I cannot imagine keeping track of it, along with twitters, and texts, and even yakking it up on the phone. I need an assistant to micro manage my mouth.

I'm on this ridiculous mission to post 100 entries every month. It's stupid I know, because how much can you all take? But hey blogging is also journal scribbling, and as some say, scrap booking. I got time to do it. Anyhoo, I just can't do it. But I decided to try and hit 50 for the month of July. For some reason I thought I had another week left, but nope. So I have been making the mad dash to 50.

I wanted to do a posting about a room I saw that reminded me so much of the one the character Patricia Neal played in Breakfast At Tiffany's decorated. She was the older woman Mrs. Robinson type, a professional Interior Decorator, sleeping with Paul (George Peppard) AND decorating his apartment. It had a kookie neo-classical look with Napoleonic flourishes. It was 1961, so it was pretty fab, and now it looks super cool. So that led me to lots of BAT photos, which got me off the track, because I never get tired of looking at them. Somehow, now stay with me here, the word Tiffany's in the search engine led me to a wedding site called Weddex, which I checked out because my old friend from New York, Sylvia Weinstock's photo was the lead in. Phew.
Weddex floored me, because first it's a great blog, and second it has posts about all my New York friends in the biz, that I knew (and still know) from when I was in the biz. So I got alot of reading to do.

In the meantime all those BAT photos were really distracting me. I never found any film stills with the set design. I never do, but still I'll spend hours looking. What an asshole.
But! I found one that really stopped me in my tracks. It's a couch like the one Holly has in her apartment.
And you can buy the thing! Me wantee! I have found my perfect couch!
But that takes me off on another lark. Last night I was playing on 1stdibs. I was trying to come up with one of those cute blog surveys everybody does: Do You Iron Your Sheets? Do You Like Bacon or Links? Do you like me, me, me and will you please, please, please comment on my blog? It's like being on TV when the bell rings and the MC yells: Survey Says!
Don't get me wrong, I think the question thingee is cute and it is so nice to talk to one another, and I do comment (and answer questions) on other blogs, and I do want you to like me, really like me...and ahem, comment.
So my idea was to have you guys go to 1stdibs and pick six of your favorite things that you would buy if money were no object. You know fantasy shopping. I started down this tunnel because I posted about doing over my couch and my living room, and I am always bitching and using the excuse for my shitty decor that I don't have real money to spend, and look out interior design world if I just get my hands on some big bucks.

Well it ain't just that easy girls and boys. I started out picking this pair of aqua blue demi lune chests. Thought they'd look nice with the brown walls I am planning. Then I tried to find things to go with it, so I thought, why redo the old junky sofa, this is fantasy land, so go buy a sofa bitch. Well I hate couch shopping (and coffee table shopping is just as bad for me). Every couch I like was just a way more costly version of mine. I got stuck for a couple of hours just looking at couches. Now I know how those Design Star people feel. I got all the money in the world to spend and a room to fill, and I'm still stuck in the couch department.
But what great couches (or do you call them - Survey Says! -sofas?) I found. So going from plan A to plan Z once again, I think I'll do Survey Says! and ask you all to tell me what your six favorite couches are! Yeah that's the ticket, you're all crazed design freaks, decor junkies, time wasters!
This idea really sucks.
So now I have a lot of pretty couch pictures, and one photo of Sister Parrish sitting on a couch that I like, because I like to look at stylish old ladies because that's where I'm headed sister.
So if you're still with me, you really do like me, and I absolve you from ever having to comment or doing Survey Says! There's a few more cute couch photos, and then I'm out of here. I can't believe the day is gone, and now I have to get ready to go teach tango, which I am really starting to resent because it's cutting into my blog time. WTF! Did you hear that?!
It sounds like I'm going to need these couches to be in a shrink's office, so I can lie down there to get away from my computer! But before I go I want to offer one more thought on something I found at Weddex about The Law Of Reciprocity. Have you heard of this law? It's kind of funny because there was a bit about this on a sit-com called According To Jim. Sort of a tit for tat gag between husband and wife and their emotional bank accounts.
I think my mother called it holding out until you got your way. But never mind...So at Weddex there's this posting about this law. I read it, and say sure thing, in so many words it's what I used to call The Good Girl Network when I was working in New York. I give you a job, then you give me a job, and then that person gives someone else a get the idea. Alot of people are in business because of The Good Girl Network. It's kind of like this with many bloggers too. So many of you guys help me out, and I have even helped a few start their blogs too (addicting them to a life of time going down a hole).

So here it is from Weddex:

Reciprocity is a basis of trust and a basis for legitimate power. The principle is that others will reciprocate in kind based upon the way you treated them. The world gives you what you give to the world. Reciprocity isn’t always instantaneous, therefore persistence is vital. Even if you’ve found yourself saying, “I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work”, don’t give up. At the appropriate time you will reap a harvest. By understanding and using the power of reciprocity, you can improve your relationships and avoid mistakes that can permanently damage your relationships. In life and work, you get what you give.

So that's my entry for today folks. You got a little bit everything. Miss Priss (my personal etiquette consultant); Breakfast At Tiffany's; Weddex; New York war stories (yawn); Fantasy Shopping; and some eye candy from istdibs. No surveys. I've done enough to you.
Sorry no links today. If you want to buy one of these couches you go to 1stdibs and find it yourself. Or ask me. I actually wrote down the names of the places they come from, and the prices. Weddex is easy - just Google her - I'll add her to the blog roll later.
And Joni, I will get out in the street and take some photos. I need the fresh hot air.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"I like sexy rooms, and I don't think all-beige is very sexy." Billy Baldwin

I'm getting ready to have my couch sent out to be recovered. I have the fabric: white leather. I chose it because I think it will be durable, and easy to clean. I have had an Ikea slip cover on this couch, as well as a toile one, originally black and white, and now over dyed pink. I have started to dismantle the old upholstery, and have hidden my crime under the slip cover while I am waiting to send it out.

From the clipping file:
it inspired me to cover my couch
in white leather (with nail head trim)

I am just waiting until the next Bed and Tango guests come and go, as I don't want the living room in disarray when they are with us.
While the sofa is getting a face-lift, I am going to repaint the living room - finally! It's been yellow, a color I inherited from the previous owner. I've decorated around it, and even enjoyed it's sunny qualities, but now it's time for it to go. I have been seduced by all the pale rooms being done everywhere, beige, soft blues, silver leaf accents, white furnishings - so pretty. Our guest room is a pretty shade of beige, called Studio Beige, that I thought I might use in the living room.
The living room opens onto our dance parlor through a set of double doors. The dance parlor is a sexy deep brown, after all we teach tango in this room. So I have decided to paint the living room the same color, in hopes of expanding that visual sexiness by joining the two rooms with the same color. The floors are light, and must remain so, and I'm hoping that a kind of reverse of the current trend of dark floors and light walls will work some magic.
I have been looking at images of brown rooms, and look to Billy Baldwin, a master of using this color. I found so many nice things at Style Court and An Aesthete's Lament (who I have added to my blog roll of favorites tonight).
I don't want the room to be an homage to retro, which will be tricky since all of my things are vintage or antique. I have one "new" piece, an armless slipper chair. I'm going to change the curtains too from my poison green velvet with pink linen center panels, to the natural drop cloth drapes. I am going to make a wide white leather covered valance. I will add a new chandelier, perhaps an over size lantern that seems to be popping up everywhere.
The huge nine foot long credenza will be moved to the kitchen, so I can change the floor plan. I plan to place the sofa there, looking out at the dance parlor. The flat screen will be placed on one of two flanking tables on either side of the French doors. I am going to cover these tables with the same white drop cloth fabric used for the drapes.
We have a vintage Eames leather lounge chair and ottoman that I am thinking of selling, and maybe replacing it with a white slip covered chaise lounge. I am also considering a geometric print slip cover for the slipper chair. As far as a rug goes, the jury is out. I have a brown and white cow hide, and also an antique red kilm rug.
So for now, it's just dreaming of Billy Baldwin, and imagining myself looking like Diana while working in in my red book room on my blog.

If you want to play with color choices, Better Homes and Gardens has a nifty little toy on line HERE called Color A Room. The room choice Escape From Beigeland was especially fun for me because it uses a similar camel back sofa as mine.

Ruthie Sommers In New Orleans -new nola STYLE!

Read about the Holy Cross neighborhood,
the Global Green project Ruthie Sommers
and Domino Magazine
worked on together HERE

The house that Ruthie built...
I am going to see if I can visit it next week
and take some pictures for you -
and while I'm there see if I can
volunteer my services...

The Peak Of Chic gave us the heads up about the profile at 1st dibs on Ruthie Sommers HERE. I found out a couple of interesting things. One is that Harper Collins is announcing her first book to be published called Diary of A Decorator. This is interesting because her other first book The LA House has been on pre-order at amazon for months. I couldn't find any information about the new first book. I just hope that any book Ruthie does comes out before I get much older.
The other interesting thing is exciting and personal, because the article talks about Ruthie working with Domino Magazine and Global Green New Orleans decorating a show house in New Orleans in the Holy Cross neighborhood in the The Ninth Ward. I found something on that HERE:
It's funny and tragic that I live here, and I didn't even know about this project! I would have volunteered to help unpack boxes, and hang pictures for them.

New Orleans, LA - April 10, 2008 - Global Green USA has partnered with domino magazine to decorate and furnish the first home to be completed in Global Green USA’s Holy Cross Project, with lead funding partner the Home Depot Foundation. Some of the interiors – as well as all of the green building features in the showcase home -- will be available for the public to view beginning next month when Global Green unveils its first completed home as a Visitor’s Center.

domino contributor and LA-based interior designer Ruthie Sommers collaborated with domino style director Dara Caponigro on the interior of the model home using all sustainable and certified materials and furnishings that will serve as an inspiration and a template for future affordable green home décor. They incorporated old and new materials to create a colorful, festive and happy décor while evoking a New Orleans sensibility. The result is a livable and cozy home.

“Our first showcase home not only helps educate citizens, developers, and public officials on how we can create healthier homes that are more affordable to operate via lower energy costs, but with domino’s help we are highlighting green interior furnishings,” said Matt Petersen, President and CEO of Global Green USA, “The interior design by domino was guided by environmentally friendly, sustainable and non-toxic principles, and the result is quite amazing.”

Iron Chef Meets HGTV - Summer Showdown

Sunday night is the final episode of this season's HGTV Design Star, when the winner will be revealed. Right after, is a new show, that looks very much like The Food Network's Iron Chef. But instead of iron chefs duking it out in Kitchen Stadium, we have plastic TV designers bitch slapping each other in the Design Dome!
Seriously, it looks like a fun show. The promos are already funny with Cynthia Rowley whining like a six year old child saying " he's copying everything I do" (and what's up with those pig tails she's wearing?). So beat the heat and save your gas money, and join me on the couch for the next four Sunday nights.

One of the 20 ugly rooms

From HGTV:
About the Show

It's our newest design event — four one-hour specials that have HGTV's top talent going head-to-head against each other in a race against the clock to make over rooms in dire need of an overhaul. We scoured America to find homeowners with rooms they felt qualified and then exact replicas of these rooms are created and placed side-by-side in the Designer Dome — the mega HGTV design arena. For each challenge, the two teams must redesign the rooms, and then a panel of celebrity judges selects the best makeover. The homeowner who submitted that room gets cash to do the room themselves.

The two person teams are made up
of a designer and a carpenter/handymen
to make-over the 2o ugly rooms:

  • Angelo Surmelis - Carter Osterhouse
  • Cynthia Rowley - Steve Hanneman
  • Vern Yip - James Lunday
  • Lisa LaPorta - Carmen De La Paz
  • Constance Ramos - Anthony Gilardi
  • Steve Watson - Sabrina Soto
  • Eric Strommer - Lauren Lake

The celebrity judges are headed up by none other than Sparkle Josh (the queen who should have won Design Star last year), and include Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams (quality furniture designers), Kim Fields (has-been child TV star); Keenan Ivory Wayans (has-been adult TV star), and Beth Littlefield (no idea).

Drop Cloth Curtains/Drapes-Does This Cherub Make Me Look Tacky-French Country Junk Chic

I live in New Orleans where most of the houses have high ceilings, and hence over size windows too. You cannot buy an off-the-rack curtain to fit a window. My ceilings are 11 feet tall (they have been dropped by a previous owner from the original 14 feet tall). Do the math: 11 X 12 = 132 inches. No curtain panel comes that long (unless you are fortunate enough to get expensive custom drapes made). So I have to make my curtains, and even fabric at a cheap price of $5. -$10. a yard gets costly when each panel needs to be at least 3.5 yards long.
So for years I have been buying canvas drop cloths and making curtain panels out of them. I don't need to sew, because they are hemmed all the way around. I just use those rings with the clips. If I needed a more finished look, I would sew those big wood rings onto them.

Canvas drop cloth curtain panel
Valorie Hart Designs

The canvas is heavy enough, and is a great natural fiber, just as nice as a heavy natural linen. A beautiful diffused light comes through, so if you need both privacy and light, you can leave your curtains closed. The only nit pick is that there is usually a seam somewhere on the drop cloth. It doesn't bother me. I use the 9 X 12 or 9 X 15 for one curtain panel.
There is a a book called French Country Junk Chic that also shows you how to use canvas drop cloths as curtain or drapery panels HERE. Written by Kathryrn Elliot, who does faux painting (as her profession) and is a design consultant, it is a book filled with lots of ideas and DYI projects.

The drop cloth curtain panels in French Country Junk Chic are more elaborate than mine. It's another great way to use canvas drop cloths. The book tells you how to do it - it's pretty easy!
Kathryrn makes a clever fringe by folding over the top of the drop cloth, hemming it to make a rod pocket. She leaves an extra 6 inch flap of excess to hang below the hemmed pocket. She makes fringe by marking off the fabric every two inches, and then cutting strips that become the fringe. She knots each strip as near to the bottom of the rod pocket as possible.
What person isn't on a budget? French Country Junk Chic has a zillion good ideas that you can modify to your own taste. Some of the rooms are a little too jam packed even for me! (But don't let this steer you away from this useful and upbeat book). And some of it looks too much like a 50% off sale at Stein Mart or TJ Maxx or Tuesday Morning. A little of that stuff is great, and goes a long way. Otherwise you might be asking the question: "Does this cherub make me look tacky?"
And now for something truly exciting! There is the Chimney Sweep Drop Cloth! Don't you just love using the words chimney sweep in a sentence? This drop cloth comes in basic black, and I think it might make a great set of curtains. You can get it HERE
Remember, depending on where you shop, you can buy canvas drop cloths for as little as $10. each - do the math - that's less than $3. per yard for some very nice pre-hemmed fabric. And if you don't like the way it looks, or screw up the project, you always have a drop cloth on hand.

Back In The Saddle - Real Rooms From Rate My Space

The saddle stool is a very comfortable, and a pretty popular choice for a counter stool. It also makes a cute little end table at the 24 inch height. I've shown the saddle stools in a couple of kitchen spaces that I found at Rate My Space HERE The stool is usually wood, and has a modern rustic look that mixes well into any style room. It comes in many price points and in many colors.

Rate My Space: Campbell1082 and lovestodecorate

Saddle stool shown in photo gallery
at Better Homes and Gardens HERE

I love this red saddle stool - yeeehaaaa!
On sale NOW at Wal Mart online
Stop puking - you know we all shop there

and 24" HERE and 29" height HERE
Also comes in black and white
Starting at $29.99

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vignettes - Durston Saylor, Photographer

Stylists, decorators, and photographers are adept at creating vignettes. My design crew used to use the word vignette as a verb, as in, oh no she's vignette-ing again.
The success of a vignette is to convey an intimate detail about the space, something that draws you in and keeps you from turning the page too fast. Vignettes are also used to show important accents and accessories. Vignettes tell a story.
I love vignettes, because they are a like little jewels, whetting the appetite like an amuse-bouche. The vignette beckons you up the dark and winding stairway exploding into a larger view.

Durston Saylor (don't you just love that name!) is a photographer who has many credits to his name. I featured a book he photographed, Decorating Master Class HERE. I love the painterly way he lights rooms. He is an expert with handling, using, and manipulating light HERE . You can also visit his website for more photos and information about him HERE
Vignettes are little windows into a bigger world, thumb nail sketches at the very least, and masterly little painting like compositions at best. I love when mirrors are used, because they give you a real feeling of Alice going through the looking glass. It is very difficult to photograph a shot with a mirror in it, and I think Durston handles it beautifully.

This vignette has several difficult elements to work with: lamp light, fire light, and the mirror. Don't you just love the way the mirror reflects so many inviting elements of this room?
Vignettes don't have to be jam packed with objects (though those have their place and charm too). Sometimes a single object or two, well placed, and beautifully lit can convey so very much. This AD cover done by Durston of Madonna's apartment, certainly conveys a sense of intrigue and intimacy. It's rare for AD to use such a spare composition for the cover, and I think it attests to Durston's adeptness at handling the genre of the vignette.
Vignettes can evoke emotion. A spare space says everything and nothing. Looking at an almost empty room might make you ask who lives there?

Viewing a room through a doorway is always magical. It's as if you're passing by, and catch a glimpse of the personal space beyond the doorway. You want a vignette to draw the viewer in.
I love this Saylor vignette, not only because of the doorway, but also because of the portrait with the woman looking at the viewer over her shoulder.

Looking outside the room from within also is evocative. How wonderful to see the sunset and the view outside the window. Shooting a room in lamp light, and using the light from the sunset is a tricky proposition that Durston pulls off splendidly. You can just feel the cocktail hour is about to happen in this posh New York setting.
What person hasn't peered through a garden gate, or a courtyard gate, looking into secret gardens? Or walking by a home and looking into a window with the curtains drawn back. This is the flip side, peering into the secret interior space from the garden. It's like pressing your nose up against the glass of some marvelous place, trying to see everything inside.
The table top vignette is another art form. The objects have to be just right to say something about who inhabits the room. If the table top is too staged, it becomes dead and static. There has to be a certain naturalness to the perfection of the arrangement.
Try to make some vignettes and photograph them. It's alot of fun. If you get any shots you like, please send them to me, and I'll post them.

Stay tuned for more of Durston Saylor's photographs of entire interiors....