Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Houses Made Into One Fabulous Home

A few months ago I posted a reader's home (Kellie and Marc). It is a wonderfully designed space that we all enjoyed seeing. As I have gotten to know Kellie better, I have found out that she comes from a family of designing women.

The home of Kellie and Marc HERE

There are four daughters (Kellie, Maggie, Sara, Jenni), each one a decor maven with one house cuter than the other, and each one looks very different in decor personality. But all share put together looks that anyone of us would love.

Knowing that my own design awareness came from my mother, I asked Kellie about her mom. And sure enough the mother of this family of designing women is the inspiration for all of the daughters.

You know I had to see Mom's house. Her name is Jill, and she has made a career out of making the family home unique and beautiful. All the daughters are grown with homes of their own, so Jill has recently made an empty nest for her and hubby Peter that all the daughters and sons-in-law and the five grandchildren love to fill.

Two single shotgun houses made into one home

Jill's house is unique from the get-go. She took two old falling down single shotgun houses that were on lots so narrow that you could almost touch the house next door. I love the way she used color and repetitive elements to visually join two houses together as one.

The center "bridge" addition connecting the two old houses is genius. It is meant to be the front door, but the family secret is that they all use the door on the house on the left side.The brick courtyard was made from bricks that came from fireplaces that had to be knocked out. Jill is an amazing re-cycler, and up-cycler extraordinaire.

The "bridge" addition between the two houses

So let's go in! The first room you come into is in house #1, and it is a precious little sitting room. Jill combines vintage and antique pieces to great effect, a classic shabby chic cottage style that is familiar and beloved.

Pale wall colors and dark wood floors work beautifully, and for the most part Jill keeps the palette soft.

The sitting room

The sitting room segues shotgun house style into the master bedroom and bath. This creates a master suite effect in one whole house.

LOVE the deep ruffle linen bedspread in the master bedroom

A vintage dresser and mirror in the master bedroom - perfect!

Walking through a door from the sitting room, you enter the "bridge". This is where the living room and dining area are. It is an ingenious use of space. There are French doors at both ends of the "bridge" that let in plenty of light.

There is a collection of vintage mirrors hung over the couch, which adds a reflective element that makes the narrow space expand visually. Jill has many charming groupings of collections placed around the house.

The living room

A chest at the entrance and a collection of vintage clocks

A view to the back set of French doors

I love the chenille bedspread on the chaise with the jewel holding it in place

White chenille chaise

Walking across "the bridge" you enter house #2, which has two guest rooms and a bath, and the kitchen.

Each guest bedroom is furnished with sweet textiles and mementos. There is a framed shadow box with a purse in it! It belonged to Jill's mother, the girls' grandmother. They said grandmother carried that purse everyday of her life that they remember. The photo over the bed is of the grandmother.

The slip cover scallop shape headboard is so pretty

Grandmother's purse framed in a shadow box

Bookshelves artfully filled with good stuff

The second guest bedroom

Love the pink and green!

At the back end of the "bridge" there is an opening to the kitchen (house #2). Jill opted for a clean classic country look. White marble counter tops and painted white cabinets are a look we all love. Jill did this seven years ago. She painted one accent wall in blackboard paint so the grand kids can scribble.

Jill's classic country kitchen

White marble counter tops

The pink mixer has never been used, so it's home for a pretty plant!

A little black cupboard in the kitchen

Let's go out the back door to the garden! Here you can see alot of clever recycling.

Back of the two joined houses leading to the yard

Jill made the fountain out of odds and ends

The raised flower bed complete with headboard

The little yellow shed is a playhouse for the grand kids

LOVE the lady head planter...

...and the old working sink

So what do you think? Have you ever seen anything more clever or more cute? It's like two dollhouses to play in!

I have been promised a house tour of the three other daughters, and I can hardly wait. I can see why all the girls love decorating and are so good at it.

Growing up with Jill, who is the resourceful and artistic visionary of the family, has created a decorating dynasty! And Peter and Marc and all the other husbands love what their designing women come up with, and lend helping hands and willing hearts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Midnight At Deyrolle In Paris

Midnight In Paris HERE

Have you ever wanted to live in another era, in another time in the past? Do you feel you were born too late? Do you love to wear vintage clothes, watch old movies, listen to golden age music, or decorate your home with antiques and vintage things?

When I was a young girl I was obsessed with time travel and "olden times". I think this came from a love for my grandmother and her home. To me it was a treasure trove of all the things I didn't have in the home I shared with my parents. Everything was mysterious and glam and funny and interesting. And my grandmother was so kooky and indulgent, and she wore bright red lipstick, to which I have been hooked on since I started to wear make-up.

I have had many favorite eras. For some reason Paris and artists always played a part.

Imaginary scene #1: Paris in La Belle Epoque, picture me a courtesan, a model for Toulouse Lautrec. I didn't exactly know what a courtesan was, but I knew Greta Garbo played one called Camille.

Imaginary scene #2: Paris in the 1920's. I was a madcap, an artists model, a glamorous bohemian.

Real scene # 1: New York in the 1970's. I was an art student (and an artists model, working my way through art school) shopping the vintage clothes stores like Bogies and Trash and Vaudeville, slinking around town in bias cut chiffon dresses from the 1930's, and dancing in beaded dresses from the 1920's until they literally fell to pieces on the dance floor. I furnished my apartments with deco before it was deco, and listened to Billie Holiday on old record players.

Real scene #2: New York in the 1980's. I slowly left planet nostalgia as I segued into my rock and roll life. But no matter what era I felt drawn to, as a young person I felt born in the wrong time and maybe even in the wrong place.

I always imagined myself living my old age looking like Colette and living in Paris surrounded by young people at my feet listening to me tell stories of my interesting life.

Real scene #3: Alberto and I have stolen away for some afternoon delight, which means stealing away to a dark movie theater in New Orleans on a hot humid weekday afternoon. The movie: Woody Allen's 41st film Midnight In Paris.

To say I enjoyed this is an understatement. When you know every location, every artist, every writer, every reference, every Zelig like moment, the delight just creeps in everywhere, until you laugh and glow with recognition.

I know you will all love this frolic, this fluff, this mash note to Paris.

Oh yes, one last scene: New Orleans today, and me smiling at the mantra I picked up from Baba Ram Das in the 1970's: Be Here Now. And I am. Joyously.

And here's a little visual round up of one of the locations that made me smile the most. It is Deyrolle. Since the resurgence of taxidermy in current decor, Deyrolle has become known to decorators and bloggers. What a treat to to see a party scene take place in Deyrolle in Midnight In Paris! It was a perfect mix of fantasy, glam, and wit! I wish I could throw a party for all of you there.

Little animals frolic forever at Deyrolle

It was especially nice to see Deyrolle filmed so beautifully, restored after a tragic fire there just a couple of years ago. Deyrolle is such a beloved place in Paris, that a zillionaire and many artists came to its rescue allowing it to be restored in record time. I love that Woody Allen chose this for a location, perhaps obscure to most movie viewers, but not to my fellow visual vamps!

Deyrolle when it burned via

You can see what a great Parisian house Deyrolle is in

So what is your favorite era in the past that you would like to live in? And did you see Midnight In Paris?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alberto Says It Best

Alberto when he was a young man, with his father

From the blog RADIO DEL TANGO:

In the beginning God used water and earth to create life. Since then,
fathers and sons have continued the eternal ritual of growing up and

It is true that the seed needs the fertile ground to sprout, but the
tree that results from that union, only grows and becomes strong
because it knows that it is its destiny to give shade to the land
where it germinated.

The paternal figure is alarmingly absent from the ethos of the tango,
perhaps because of the circumstances of the period where it began its
genesis without a father.

Not so, in other musical expressions from diverse regions around the country.

Astor Piazzolla, raised in New York, brought the figure of the father
to the tango in a very poignant way when he wrote his masterpiece
Adios Nonino, in memory of his father who passed away in Argentina
while Astor was working in North America.

I pay tribute to my own deceased father and to my boy who's now a man
and a dad, and my girl who's now a woman.
To all the dads in the reach of our embrace, happy day and I hope you
will enjoy the music...

Go to this link:

Happy Father's Day Alberto!

PS The Vamp here...That marvelous voice of the DJ is Alberto

Friday, June 17, 2011

Velvet and Linen, Brooke and Steve Giannetti In Veranda!

Velvet and Linen in the July/August 2011 issue of Veranda

I just got the July/August issue of Veranda and woo-to-the-hoo, blogger Brooke Giannetti and her husband Steve have their beach house in the issue! And Steve did the drop dead gorgeous photography (with Lisa Romerin). There are eight fab pages to swoon over!

I love these two! So a big smooch and a heartfelt congratulations to them!

Get your issue and a glass of wine and kick back and have a Happy Weekend!

Visual Vamp Shops Copy Cats And More

We all know what Sunday is. If you live in New Orleans pick up this cute T-shirt for your daddy from Fleurty Girl on Magazine or Oak Street.

Or give him a card telling him you ordered one these great copy cat high end designer lamps from HERE

The gold gun lamp is a copy cat version of a gold plated one that sells for $1756. This one sells for $129. It's very gangsta chic, and even though I am not a gun lover, I love this lamp.

I have loved these black rabbit Mooi lamps ever since I saw them at Biba Italia in New York two years ago. They retail for around $500. You can get these cute copy cats for only $99. each!

Mooi copy cat black rabbit lamps

And who doesn't love the Bourgie lamp? Ranging in price from 300 something to 900 something each, this copy cat is only $129.!

Bourgie lamp copy cat

All of these darling copy cats come directly from China from a reliable source HERE.

Of course if you can afford the real thing, have it at!
And last but not least, I got this adorable pillow for my guest room HERE, because we are having company this summer. My sister is coming in July for my birthday, and my dear friend Michael Pelkey is coming in August!

"Do come back pillow" at casa Visual Vamp

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chair Audition

Dear Annechovie, You don't know me. I'm a little orange velvet chair, your biggest fan who loves all the portraits of chairs you do. Would you please do one of me? I will sit very still and not talk like Mary McDonald on Million Dollar Decorators.

Are you listening Anne? Can I be your muse?

The Vamp here....I just got a pair of these beauties.

I am inspired by this piece of art by Anne Harwell of Annechovie. So much so that I use it for my business card that she designed. I guess I have a thing for orange chairs!

I also love old French frames on chairs, upholstered in velvet. So the chairs in this perfect French Quarter dollhouse also tickled my fancy.

photo by Valorie Hart at the home Deb & Jerry Shriver HERE

And I love strong color on a traditional chair. And nobody does it better than Tobi Fairley.

Tobi Fairley's fab green chairs HERE

I also just got these cute cute cute boxes of matches from Annechovie! Treat yourself them!

Matches by Anne Harwell, Annchovie HERE

Pair of orange velvet chairs in the home of Visual Vamp Valorie Hart

Isn't my chair a good muse for Anne Harwell?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


"Raggly Flag" by Thornton Dial

Today is Flag Day.

When I was in school we had to write a composition entitled "What Does The Flag Mean To You". It was a lesson in civics and history.

When you are a child you don't really think about the meaning of flags. You might learn to identify flags of different countries, maybe a first visual association with a world larger than your own.

In the 1970's I was fond of the saying "Let your freak flag fly".

Flags get all wrapped up in politics, self identification, emotion and pride for sure. Who doesn't get a lump in their throat when the national anthem is played and the colors are trouped out?

So I give you an image today of a painting by Thornton Dial called "Raggly Flag". Thornton Dial is an excellent example the American dream. He is an artist, self taught, who started painting later in life. Today he is considered one of the most important artists of the 21st century. I love his work.

People all over the world reinvent themselves during their lifetimes. Ditto for self made women and men. But somehow this idea of having the freedom to be anything you want at anytime in your life rings truest and perhaps the loudest when people think of the USA.

So today I salute my flag, and let my freak fly, grateful and proud.

I encourage you to check out Thornton Dial. If you live in Indianapolis the museum of art there is doing an important exhibit of a life time of his incredible work. Read more HERE.

Get this book on Thornton Dial HERE

This is a new Thornton Dial book HERE

And if you are one of those blessed art collectors you can buy this work of art HERE. If I had the money I would buy Thornton Dial for love and for the investment.

For sale: Thornton Dial oil on paper - 30 x 44

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mary Kay Andrews Summer Rental - It's Her House!

Many of you know about Mary Kay Andrews new book "Summer Rental". It is the best beach read for sure.

I was at Joni's the other day, engrossed in one of her long and interesting posts, gladly going down the rabbit hole of her tangents, when at the very end of the post she mentioned Mary Kay's book with a link to site that rents Mary Kay's actual summer home, Breeze Inn Cottage on Tybee Island (thank you Joni).

Well it is too cute for words, and it is certainly one summer rental that does not require a make-over! I captured the images for you from the web site HERE. I wish the images were larger, but I think you will be able to see how darling this house is. And I love the captions! I wonder if Mary Kay wrote them.

And the house is pet friendly! I would love to rent this house for at least a month! Wouldn't you???!!!

Enjoy! And Happy Weekend!