Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chelsea's Guys

Jeff Leatham is the florist. Known as "The Leaner" because of his leaning flower bouquets.

Brian Rafanelli from Boston is the event planner.

They are both experts at celebrity events.

It's going to be just beautiful!!!

I predict leaning flowers will be THE look for wedding flowers in 2011.

Read more about the wedding HERE

Congratulations Chelsea and Marc!

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Vamp On The 6

Jenny From The Block HERE

Alberto and I took a little ride uptown on the 6 Train. For those of you who are New Yorkers you know I am talking about the subway. The 6 Train gained some fame when Jenny from the block wrote a song about the 6 Train.

The view from Target overlooking the East River

I used to have a boyfriend who lived in Soundview (in the Bronx), the same neighborhood Jenny from the block comes from, so I am well acquainted with the 6 Train.

You can see the Manhattan skyline from the East Harlem Target

And why pray tell are two oldsters heading up to East Harlem on this fine summer day? Well, we're going to Target of course!

East River Plaza

Target just opened a new store on the island of Manhattan, accessible by subway. It's at the East River Plaza, a mall that also has Costco, Best Buy, Marshalls, Old Navy and more.

The escalator up to Target in New York City!

There's plenty of parking, and you can get there by cab, but we wanted to take the subway to see if this is feasible for New Yorkers. You take the Lexington Avenue line, the 6 Train, to 116th Street.

The Target PR says it is a five block walk, but it is a way long five blocks.

When we got off the train, and up to street level, we were asking a man about how to get to Target, and you could tell he is already over all these downtown types bothering him about Target.

But he was sweet to us and said we would better off taking the bus, because it was a long walk. If you walk, you walk east (towards the East River) on 116th Street, a major shopping street with lots of interesting things to look at.

Alberto invites me into shop at the new Target in East Harlem

Just as we were deciding what to do, a free shuttle bus from Target pulled up! So we hopped on, and within three minutes we were there.

Target painted the 6 Train for the grand opening

The location is spectacular, right ont he East River, with the FDR Drive (an expressway of sorts) right below. Cars were whizzing by, and the river view was wonderful.

Manager at Target wearing a chic pencil skirt

The store itself is like any Target anywhere. But it was so fun to be a brand new store that everyone in so excited about.

Special designer merchandise was made for the Harlem Target

They have a whole bunch of designer articles made just for this grand opening.

Five percent of each product's revenue will go to local charities like Museo del Barrio and The Young Women's Leadership School.

The designers are: Isabel and Ruben Toledo, who created graphic bikinis, t-shirts, beach towels, and sarongs; Stephen Burrows, who worked some color block magic on knit dresses and tops; and Marc Samuelsson, whose pop art place mats, napkins, and pot holders are cute as can be.

Prices range from $3.99 to $34.99, and the collection will have a wider national release and on starting August 1.

I bought the Isabel and Ruben Toledo beach towel
It is a work of art!

The banana napkins remind me of Andy Warhol

I snapped a few pictures in the store, and saw some pottery that looks very much like vintage Bitossi pottery from Italy made in the 1960's.

Bitossi pottery copy cat - and only $14.99

Then I snapped a photo of a very chic looking manager wearing a pencil skirt as part of the Target uniform of red shirts with khaki pants. She politely informed me that taking photos on the store was not permitted. Who knew?

We had a date with Nicole from Sketch 42, so we decided to cab it back downtown. She lives in the mid fifties. There is a cab service in the parking lot, but they are not metered cabs. It's more of a collection of car services, what we used to call gypsy cabs. They quoted us $15. for the ride.

We just have an aversion to gypsy cabs so we walked to Pleasant Avenue, and easily flagged a cab. The fare was $13. plus $2. tip, and we decided it would be okay to take the gypsy cab next time.

Our visit with Nicole was wonderful. She is an amazing talent, and her home is even better in person than all the great photos we have seen of it on her blog HERE.
This girl needs to be in Lonny or Elle Decor or House Beautiful or Rue!

Photo from Nicole Cohen of her home from her blog Sketch 42

So hop on the 6 Train and check out the new Target!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vamp Greige Is Not Dull

As many of you who read along know, I am a colorist, never shying away from using color in my rooms. Lately the color of choice is this magical combination of beige and gray, which of course equals Greige.

When another design maven who's writing a design book saw my dining room, he remarked that this was a neutral room that is not boring, how my choice of "Vamp Greige" shows how you can use neutrals as color. He remembered my red walls, but did not think the greige to be any less exciting.

I got a lovely e-mail from Maryanne the other day, and she thinks so too. She sent me some pictures of her dining room.

She writes" "We are redoing a lot of our house as we bought it a month ago and it is definitely not to our taste."

Maryanne's dining room - she moved in a month ago

Maryanne painted her dining room a color she calls aqua blue. She wanted to try something different, but admitted she really is "a Greige girl all the way." So two days later she repainted the dining room Greige.

Maryanne's dining room then, with blue walls

Maryanne shares: "And I must say, we have had tremendous luck with Craigslist. I have bought many items so far and I am thrilled with them - the antique table in the dining room was only $210, the small mirror was only $20, but best of all, all 6 dining chairs were only $80!! The bust and marble stand were a combined $100. There was a time when I would have paid much more for these items. Now, I am so delighted to source them through fleas and the internet."

Maryanne's dining room now - with Greige walls

Maryanne tells us: "Greige is definitely not dull. My husband said yuk when I told him I was repainting the walls greige but, of course, now he loves it."

Maryanne's dining room project is still a work in progress. But at the rate she works, I am sure that the whole house will be done in two weeks!

Maryanne is a great shopper!
She says: "I try to limit all my buys to Craigslist or fleas.
I already had the chandelier from my more fiscally careless days."

Some of you have asked me what the paint color is that I am using, the color I call "Vamp Greige".

It is a discontinued color by the Color Place brand, the house brand from Wal Mart. However they (or any paint store) can mix it for you. The color is Studio Beige.

I have it mixed in a Kilz paint base because I like to use Kilz in New Orleans which is prone to moisture and mildew. But the Color Place brand base paint is excellent as is.

I have the exact paint number and formula at home, and I will share it with you when I get home from New York.

In New York with blogger friends Kwana and Patricia

The best thing about this beautiful paint color and paint brand is that it is only $20. a gallon. Sherwin Williams makes the Color Place brand, and the contractors here love this paint for both the price and the quality.

And most importantly, thank you Maryanne for sharing your project with us!

I think she is doing a wonderful job, don't you?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Painted Kitchen

Birthday cake and cards, and hydrangea from the garden
Thank you all for all the wonderful birthday greetings!

Phase one of the Visual Vamp Kitchen Revamp is completed! And that would be the painting!

Gone is the French mustard color, and here is the lovely perfect Greige that is getting very popular around town. I have suggested it for two design projects, and it has turned out to be one of those magical paint colors that works for everyone and everywhere.

Cabinet in breakfast area

The miscellaneous pieces of furniture also got their paint job. These are odds and ends that I use for storage, and painting them in shades of Greige unifies them visually.

Birds eye view of the breakfast area
Black and white elements added
to play off
the dining room chairs I have had for years
The bench from the dining room ended up here

I snapped a few down and dirty photos for you, not styled, just to give you a glimpse of a project in progress. There's demolished birthday cake on the table, the trash can visible, and the ladder is still up.

Breakfast area

Vintage Melamine fish platter

The new acquisition of the antique Louis Phillipe style mirror got hung over the mantle. Gone are the Majolica plates and tole candle sconce. One vintage Melamine fish platter made it onto the mantle, with a pair of modern lamps. The life size skeleton anatomy charts have been rolled up and put away, and the cross collection has met a similar fate.

Louis Phillipe style mirror above the fireplace

Detail of the fireplace

View of kitchen stairs
No more cross collection!
The pantry "armoire" Alberto made to fit under the stairs also got Greige

Bar under the stairs

Painted kitchen furniture
The lace curtain is temporary
Fabric has been ordered to make a Roman shade here
And drapes for the window in the breakfast area

The Union Jack from Appliance Art
I won it from Bohemian Hellhole!

Thanks Alice!
It was very easy to install -
It's just a big sticker actually
and came with a handy smoothing tool

The bakers rack got a coat of paint

The next thing we will be doing is the new counter top. But first Alberto will finish the cabinet doors he's been working on, the ones for the cupboards with the white ironstone. The doors he is making are so cute. They have chicken wire insets.

Upper cabinets will get doors with chicken wire insets
Go HERE to see how the kitchen project started months ago

We love the progress we are making in the kitchen. It is so nice to sit and stare at what we have accomplished, and have a think about the things to come.

I love having a project, despite the hard work. Don't you find it rewarding to do something so transformative? Painting is amazing. I used 2 gallons of paint on the walls and ceilings, and trim that cost $40. And another $20. for the paint for the furniture. It's the best bang for the decorating buck any visual vamp can get!

For the most part I am using what I have for this phase of the kitchen. Moving things from other parts of the house is a great way to keep a design cohesive and budget friendly.

So don't wait to do a project because you don't have a huge budget. Just do it! You won't be sorry. I love the work I see so many bloggers do to their homes, whether it's a project that is blessed with great budgets and big name designers, or ones that involves lots of DIY and Craigslist finds. You guys keep me stoked and energized!

Tommy Hilfiger's kitchen

PS I love this kitchen in Tommy Hilfiger's new apartment HERE. He calls it a bistro kitchen, and I swear to Gawd that I have been saying I want a bistro feeling in my kitchen!!!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kellie and Marc

Today I have the great pleasure to bring you a very special reader's home. She has been coming to perch. in New Orleans for design ideas, and over the last couple of years has become very dear to us.

A wing chair now in Kellie's house next to an antique armoire
Fabric from perch. - Note the matching dog bed!

I met Kellie when I first started working at perch. I liked her right away, liked the choices she made in the shop. We struck up a friendship. Sometimes she brought her husband Marc with her, who is adorable.

The wing chair then - cute, but Kellie made it cuter!

Kellie loves to decorate, though she is not one aspiring to be a designer or a decorator. Her Mom has always done interesting serial home renovating and decorating, and Kellie can't remember a time some craft project was happening in her house.

Kellie is one of four girls. She was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where her mom was constantly redesigning, redecorating and rearranging. All four of the “girls” have the decorating bug, although they all have different styles.

Kellie says, "Maybe it’s genetic!?! When my mom was ready for a change, she went for it. One time mom decided she didn’t like the location of her kitchen. She called the plumber, electrician, painter, and carpenter and had them move her kitchen to an entirely different part of the house. The funny thing is…nobody flinched…not Dad, not my sisters. We were used to the constant projects and upgrades".

Bright green paint and a gas lantern are touches added by Kellie and Marc

The house is a new build in Greta, Louisiana, just on the other side of the Mississippi River from perch. It is adorable, and looks like it has been there for a hundred years.

Kellie and Marc purchased the house in August of 2004. Initially, Marc did not like the house at all and did not want to buy it. Admittedly, it wasn’t too spectacular. It needed some help but Kellie knew she could make the house a beautiful home. Also, she loved the neighborhood and loved the fact that they could walk to church, the post office, bank, coffee shop, florist, etc.

Kellie's design books

Kellie loves design books, and magazines, and blogs, and she is well versed in what's happening in the design world. She knows how to use trends, and make them her own long lasting classics.
Her style is decidedly feminine, what's she calls as girly.

Kellie tells us, "Marc’s and my home is in a constant state of change. In the six years we have been in the house we have added a sun room, added a fireplace, re-did the kitchen, painted each room a godzillion times, and added and subtracted furniture and art. The den has been four different colors. Thank god my husband’s patient!"

Basket of shoes by the side door

What inspires Kellie's decor choices? She tells us, "I am definitely feminine and girly—maybe from growing up in a house full of girls. I like soft pastel-ly colors and lots of whites. I always lean toward soft pinks and lavenders. My husband is pretty laid back about my girlie-ness and decorating and takes it all in stride. His only request was that we not have a pink bedroom. So I painted our bedroom a color called Lily Lavender! I try to have an eclectic assortment of furniture. I don’t want to be too matchy-matchy. My furniture ranges from mid-century to antique French to contemporary. And I love, love, love buying art!"

Marc is perfectly at ease with Kellie's choices, and loves how pretty she has made their home.

Kellie and Marc

Marc is in the military, and has been deployed overseas for a year. He is home for a small leave for a week or so, and Kellie is anxious to show him some of the changes she's made while he has been away.

Marc is a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army. He is an infantry soldier and has spent the past six months serving in Iraq. Marc knows that anytime he leaves for a deployment he will be coming home to an “updated” and changed house. Working on the house keeps Kellie occupied, and keeps her mind off of the realities of his job.

Detail of antique armoire doors

Kellie is a methodical decorator. She knows what she wants, and she saves up her cash for it. She works hard, and she shops wisely. She loves to mix vintage and antique and contemporary things, using a pale color palette of blues, whites, grays, lavender, and pink.

Detail of antique armoire

There is a pooch in the house named Toulouse, so everything is dog friendly. Toulouse is affectionately called Lucy, and was found walking the streets of Houston.


She was homeless and they took her in. Kellie says, "I didn’t want a dog but Marc loved her so much that I caved."

Lucy has been a great dog and takes good care of Kellie while Marc is away. They assume Lucy is about 7 years old although they aren’t quite sure.

Kellie shops at perch. , and at other stores on Magazine Street. She supports local businesses as much as possible. She also is a savvy internet shopper.

She loves high end luxury things as well as anyone, but if her budget does allow for them, she scales down and uses one or two really nice things mixed in.

The living room
Kravet linen covered sofa - a definite investment and splurge

Synthetic Antelope area rug is very affordable
All of these pieces including fabric for pillows
and white lacquer coffee table are from perch.
Pink chair is vintage

Kellie's sister made the pillows

Vintage trim on pillow from perch.

Papier mache antelope head over fireplace - Stray Dog from perch.

Vintage pink chair

Right after Katrina, Kellie bought three Julie Neill chandeliers. She saved up for them and bought them one at a time. The prices were more reasonable then, though certainly not bargain basement.

Dining room chandelier then

Recently Kellie wanted to change her dining room chandelier, to coordinate with a Julie Neill fixture in her open floor plan kitchen/dining area/ living room. She had a modern one that ended up HERE

The two different chandeliers really work!

We searched long and hard for her, and realized that matching the kitchen fixture would be impossible, and that two different chandeliers could coexist, and be quite interesting and beautiful.

The dining room chandelier now

We considered many possibilities, but came back to a classic Swedish/French style wood turned chandelier. The only problem was the cost. Another Julie Neill chandelier was not doable.

The candle chandelier was wired for electricity
Antique Swedish dining table from perch.

I found a candle chandelier at Tommys Flower Shop in the French Quarter (933 Rue Royal, New Orleans, LA 70116, phone - 504-522-6563), and we had our perch. electrician wire it up.

The best part is that the cost was only $465. total! Compared to the starting cost in the $2000. range for a chandelier style like this we were pleased and Kellie was thrilled.

Kellie's grandmother's china

Kellie has some lovely china from her grandmother, and she mixes in vintage silverware and lovely monogrammed linen napkins when she sets the table.

Hem stitch linen napkin and vintage silverware

Dining room

Marc and Kellie had the kitchen redone. It has a small footprint, so they were able to use the luxury items they wanted: stone counter tops, farm house sink, stainless appliances, Carera subway tile black splash, and the drum style Julie Neill chandelier.

Carera marble subway tiles

The kitchen has a great mix

Each of the three bedrooms in the home are unique and beautiful.

The front bedroom has a French daybed, an antique tall clock, a zebra print hide on the floor, and a Lucite desk with a seat belt chair.

Seat belt chair from perch. paired with a Lucite desk

The white linen drapes with the wide black border were made by Kellie's sister. The chandelier is Julie Neill.

Antique daybed and Julie Neill chandelier in the office

Antique case clock in the bedroom that doubles as an office

The guest bedroom is all vintage from the charming painted bed and dresser, to the lamps and the chandelier.

Vintage painted bed in the guest room

The silk drapes were made by Kellie's sister, and the hand made return rod came from perch. The mirror night stands are from Pottery Barn.

Kellie got one king sham from Leontine Linens for the guest room
She said they were so nice to her to suggest this as a way to have a little luxury

It's no secret that Leontine Linens has beautiful and pricey things. So Kellie just got one king size monogrammed pillow sham for her guest bed. Just that one thing makes the bed look luxe.

Vintage painted dresser in guest room
Metal antlers from perch.

The lavender master bedroom has the third Julie Neill chandelier.

Kellie and Marc and I have been married for 7 years. They are a great match!

She says, "I’m a high-strung lunatic and he is cool, calm and laid-back. I am fortunate that my husband lets me do my thing with the house. He never balks at my girlie decorating or my constant projects. He is definitely secure in his masculinity. I think it’s great that my combat soldier of a husband sleeps in a Lily Lavender bedroom."

The Lily Lavender master bedroom

There are vintage side tables and chairs, and a fabulous Barbara Barry vanity with a Kartell Victoria Ghost chair and an antique trumeau mirror above it.

Barbara Barry vanity

Kartell Victoria Ghost chair

Side table in master bedroom

Silk drapes in master bedroom

The enclosed back porch (sun room) is adorable, with a French settee covered in pink on one side of the room, and a pair of sleek white Barcelona chairs on the other.

White drapes and a pink settee on the back porch

Heavily lined white duck drapes are very elegant and help keep the room cool in the Summer and warm in the winter.

White Barcelona chairs on the back porch

White Barcelona chairs on back porch

Lady paintings on the porch

Sweet blue shed in the back yard

The art collection interweaves a story throughout the entire house. Kellie and Marc collect local artists, and what they love. It is colorful and whimsical.

Side hall art gallery

The lady painting collection is impressive, and Kellie is always looking for another pretty lady to add to the bevy of beauties that grace her walls.

Vintage lady paintings

Vintage lady paintings

Vintage lady paintings

So there you have it! Kellie and Marc and their pretty little house. I hope it inspires you and that you had as much fun looking at all the photos as I had taking them.

Doll house in the office

Kellie's sister Maggie, is a beautiful seamstress and she has sewn all of the curtains and pillows throughout the house. She has an etsy website where she sells her original designs and creations, and she can also make just about anything to order.

In addition to her etsy website she sews military bags and purses for a company called “Hero On My Arm”. You can order a bag HERE

Kellie's sister Maggie makes the "Hero On My Arm" bags

Maggie used Marc's old fatigues and lined the bag with cute a cute floral

I asked Kellie how her home made her and Marc feel: "I am definitely a nester, and I love my nest. My job is in sales and I spend my days talking and meeting and negotiating. At the end of the day, I want tranquility. My house is just that…soft, calm and quiet. I love when it’s late at night and Marc and I are on the couch watching TV with the dog at our feet and the dishwasher humming. I feel safe and serene. So lovely. Marc’s much simpler and easier than me. He just wants a place to eat his Cheetos, take a shower, and grow tomatoes."

Marc and Kellie both grew up in New Orleans but in different parts of the city. She was a west bank kid (Algiers) and Marc grew up in eastern New Orleans and the Northshore. They both love New Orleans and plan on staying.

PS Today is my birthday. I am holding at 100! My birthday wish is for Marc and all those who are serving to come home safe and sound.