Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween!

The Visual Vamp vamping it up

Alberto and I hosted a Black and White Tango Party the other night. It was fun to dress up. I shopped our closet. I have had this vintage Carolyne Roehm silk tulle ballgown skirt for years. In fact when I got it in New York, it was new. The top is a little sequin shirt I picked up for $5. in a sale bin somewhere. My hair was dyed lavender for the night, and my hairdresser Randy Roman gave me the best rock-star up-sweep. The little black and white mask is from the French Market in New Orleans. The location is Galvez Restaurant where we take over their ballroom on the fourth Sunday of each month to host a tango dance. I love the mural with the Creole couple peering out the faux doors.

Anyhoo, have a wonderful Halloween.

Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart on the right - Alberto has a matching sequin jacket to my shirt, and yes it was in the closet! The other couple on the left are young argentinos who are professional Swing dancers, Mariella and Gabriel. They did a wonderful performance for us the night of the party.

My heart is heavy and sad seeing all the storm damage Sandy did.  Most everyone I know in the east has checked in and is okay. Seeing New York City so ravished is so sad. It stirs up all those Katrina feelings. But this I know: People rebuild and restore, and often what can come out of ruin is more amazing than what was there before.

The weather patterns over the last few years seem different, bigger, and more fierce. Maybe it is just the 100 year cycle thing. We weren't around a hundred years ago to see what changes occurred then. Maybe this is all just the natural flow of things. I personally think it is global warming caused by us humans that is turning our weather into one huge disaster movie that is more of a horrible reality show. Nowhere seems immune anymore. Scary.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's A Mirage

Shutters. A pretty standard design, correct? Especially the louver type that have been around for centuries. We use them on the outside of our homes, sometimes for function, sometimes just for decoration. We use them on the inside of the house as an option to curtains and drapes.

Shutters are a classic design

Ed Williams sent me a note the other day. He's someone I met at a window covering convention a couple of years ago. He was very excited to show me a new design for shutters he is introducing and wanted feedback.

The Mirage Shutter

They are called Mirage, and I love them. The wavy louver is so organic. What do you guys think?

The Mirage Shutters look great whether they are long or short

They work well in traditional spaces

They work well in modern spaces and you can get them in colors! I really like the long shorter narrow ones. So many homes have those type of windows, and it is hard to find a window treatment that looks good for them. I have a client in mind for these shorter Mirage Shutters (called Tempest) for exactly this type of of row of narrow windows.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

I Wish I Could Sew

Brick House Fabrics is a wonderful site for getting fabrics you cannot find anywhere else. And they don't think I am just another pretty face HERE.

They have a wonderful section called Postcards where their customers send in photos of their projects.

This fabric from Brick House is killer

I had shown you a fun retro style fabric from Brick House Fabric. I envisioned covering walls with it, or maybe some toss pillows. But one of their customers, Sabina had another thought bubble.

Look at the jacket Sabina made!

It's a funny coincidence that I have dear friend named Sabina too! She is also a pretty great home sewer, and I can't help but think of her when I see the work of the Brick House Sabina.

How many of you are blessed with sewing skills? What do you make for your homes? Want to share some photos with us all? Email them to me and I'll post them.

I actually only had one Home Economics class in my formative years. I was a little snooty art major and looked down on the home arts. As the eldest of seven I did enough cooking and cleaning to rival any classroom situation. The one Home Ec class I took was by default. I wanted to take a psychology class, but it was full and the guidance counselor talked me into something called "Family Living", assuring me it was a very social work oriented class, and of course social work was just as good as psychology.  The class was a part of the Home Ec department, and a snooze. But I did gain respect for all those Home Ec majors who could work a sewing machine, a skill I never learned.

Little did I know that I would not become the next DeKooning, Pollack, Krasner, Warhol, or Frankenthaler. Years and years of art school and all I want to do is sew up some drapes or a slip cover. Old eyes and hands and a fear of the sewing machine keeps accomplished tradespeople and friends who sew engaged by me.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Kelly Green Trending

A strong saturated green has been popular for the past three years or so. Designers Nick Olsen, Miles Redd, Tobi Fairly, and Brian Patrick Flynn have put it on the radar in the design world.

Kelly Green Closet by Brian Patrick Flynn

Some people call it Kelly Green, some people call it Emerald Green, and I just call it gorgeous. It's funny that I love this classic preppy color so much. I used to associate it with old dudes in fugly golf pants, nowhere near high style. And preppy is one thing I have ever been called.

Kelly Green and Navy Blue done by Brian Patrick Flynn

It just goes to prove that all color is beautiful when manipulated in the right way. Kelly Green gives a room energy and sophistication.

Add just a touch of Kelly Green - Brian Patrick Flynn

My Guest Picks at Houzz this month are awesome! I found nearly 50 things in 50 shades of Kelly for you. Please go check it out.

Go see my Kelly Green Guest Picks at Houzz

I also have a board at Pinterest called Kelly Green Trending that will show you lots of ways to use this fab color.

Blogger Skyla Freeman decorated her apartment in many shades of green

And I included blogger Skyla Freeman in my Houzz Guest Picks. She is an ambassador for green. Her cute compact apartment decorated in Kelly Green made the cover of Local Living. She really knows how to use the color, and her apartment is a great case study for any of you who have been thinking about decorating with Kelly Green.

Cover girl Skyla Freeman!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two Reasons To Save The Guest Room

Thank you everyone who weighed in on me changing our guest room to my office. Lots of good ideas to think about.

In the meantime, I was presented with two compelling reasons to keep it as is.

Two reasons to save the guest room - photo by Alberto on his iPhone

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What Quirky Collections Are Part Of Your Decor?

Collecting. It is so personal. Most of us display what we collect in our homes. Sometimes the collections take over. Once we are attracted to a particular thing it seems to multiply. Besides hunting and gathering what we ourselves love, people notice what you collect and all of a sudden every gift that comes your way has to do with the collection.

What collections do you display in your home?

Collections can evolve over the years. The ceramic and brass owls I loved to collect at age 18 are long gone. The time line of my life could be written by the collections that have come and gone.
In my 30s it was Art Deco. In my 40s white Ironstone and Majolica. In my 50s tango shoes. And now...Well it's not so much about collecting anymore. I will always love dinnerware and glassware (with thoughts of dinner parties).  I have always loved "curiosities", shells and bones, and things from nature, and a pretty set of plates can always make my heart flutter.

Transferware  is lovely to collect

I don't bring much into the house now, unless something goes out. It's a matter of finite space. But I still have a lot of stuff by any standards.  I like looking at things. I like arranging things. I admire minimal spaces, but they're a nice place to visit (cue rim shot:  But I wouldn't want to live there).

How do you incorporate your collection into everyday life?

Don't you love to look at what other people collect? And it is always fascinating to see what people  choose to display in their homes. Is collecting an elegant way of hoarding? I think humans need their stuff, don't you?

Kitchens are a natural showcase for collections

Of course as all of us hurl towards death (and yes young ones you too have an end coming sooner than you think), one tends to think about the fate of the accumulation of cherished objects and brick-a-brack. Let's face it, most of us do not have museum worthy stuff. At best it might fetch a few modest dollars on eBay. Even if you leave a detailed will, you can never be sure that your stuff will ever be loved as much as you love it.

Have you  been bringing "nature" things from outside into the house since you were a child?

So is there a life lesson here? Not really. Collect and enjoy. And tell us what you collect and  how you you use it your decor. Comfort comes in the sameness we humans share. After all, we are a social and gregarious lot.

Bugs can be beautiful

All of these images are of the home and studio of the jewelry designer Gabriella Kiss. It is a microcosm of nature, history, and the creations of family and friends.

Tiny frames and intaglios displayed under a large mirror is quirky

Read all about her and her collections in an article in The NY Times by

Mantels are a magnet for collections

Sculpture always is good place to display and store jewelry

Don't you love a tabletop covered with interesting bits?
Who could resist using taxidermy for ones jewels?

Kiss, who studied sculpture at Pratt Institute and worked for the jewelry designer Ted Muehling before going out on her own in 1988, is known for understated jewelry that highlights the beauty of semiprecious stones, as well as bolder pieces like earrings in the shape of snakes or clipper ships. She also sees beauty where others may not."

Seeing beauty where others do not is really at the core of all collections don't you think? Where do you see beauty?

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Would You Give Up Your Guest Room?

No matter how small or large any home I have ever had, I always made room for an overnight guest. In the old days it was a sofa bed or a day bed tucked in a corner somewhere. In larger spaces, a dedicated bedroom.

Home office or guest room? I love this room!

My "office" has been the breakfast area table for the past year. Two laptops, a printer, and stacks of files and books clutter the top of the table. Alberto built me some small shelves in a narrow cubbyhole next to the fire place to hold fabric samples and client files. 

I could do something like this pretty easily

The whole thing is an eyesore. But it is a great place to work. I sit on a bench up against the wall, and this is the best position I ever been in, in terms of spending hours writing on the computer. I do not get that awful neck fatigue I always get sitting in any other chair. And the light is fabulous, and I like being in the kitchen watching Alberto cook.

This one ticks my all my boxes

But...  As I get more and more busy I think maybe I should have a dedicated office. The only space in the house that would be suitable is the current guest room. It would be fun to have a project again, and transform the room. But...I really love our guest room. I often go in there to read. And I love having it always available for friends and family. I would never make anyone sleep on the couch or an air mattress out in the open. And unfortunately my pockets are not deep enough to offer to pay for a nice hotel.

So many good takeaways here - Love the skirted tables so you can store things underneath

 What would you do? 

I do not want to "share" an office with a guest room. There is no room in our bedroom to make an office nook. I do not want to share space in Alberto's man cave. I used to have my office in the dining room, but that room is more visible than the breakfast area, and I hated to see the clutter all the time. And I love having the dining room back again because we do give dinner parties.

I would love an office like this
The dance parlor is actually our entry hall/foyer, actually the first room you walk into from the front door. Again I would never want my office clutter to be the first thing seen. And we do give private tango lessons here. I do have a few pieces of furniture in this room, but they are against the walls and don' take up much room.

This is pretty perfect too

Wah wah wah.

All photos from Sally Wheat's Pinterest board.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Steven Miller Art You Can Afford! Really!

Decorators like fashionistas jump on trends. Whether it's a designer purse or a Greek key anything, or the same type of art work, there is always something that everyone just has to have. Paloma at La Dolce Vita did a great post on this subject.

Mixing in abstract art with interior decorating is definitely a trend here to stay. From the high prices in the thousands, to Etsy and bloggers making art for sale at more affordable prices, there is something out there for everyone, even if you make it yourself.

The art of Steven Miller as seen in Elle Decor

Elle Decor recently had a feature on the stylish New York City home of Michael Leva. A piece of art jumped out at me, because of the popular motif beloved by many decoristas. The painting was done by Steven Miller. So I went on over to his web site, and loved what I saw. His work is wonderful. As I tooled around I found a link pointing to a place where you can buy prints of his work at Fine Art America!

Steven Miller art canvas print - $207.

Steven Miller art canvas print $207.

How fabulous! It's an art shopping site for the masses! You can get a reproduction of Steven's paintings that sell in the thousands, at very affordable prices. Of course who wouldn't want an original? But in the meantime, here's a way to get something really nice for your decorating dreams. I wish more artists would do something like this, offer reproductions of their work. The art market will always have those valued collectors who will only buy originals, but there is also a market of millions of everyday home makers who would buy nice reproductions like the ones Steven smartly offers.

Artist Lee Krasner - Why do girls love circle so much?

I don't know why circles and scribbles have struck such a note with decorators, both home and profesional. Like it or not, it is a trend that seems entrenched. I have a board at Pinterest with a ton of examples of this type of art. It's fascinating to see all the riffs on the same theme gathered in one place.

Go check out my Pinterest board called Circles and Scribbles

From Southern Accents Magazine - This image started the trend that every decorator an blogger had to do

From The NY Times (photo by Sara Essex Bradley)

I bought this little piece of trendiness three years ago for $75.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Copy Cat Vintage Botanical Print

I love vintage botanical and medical charts used as wall art. I brought back a pair of life size skeleton anatomy charts for my house from the Lisbon flea market nearly ten years ago.

Vintage botanical print

The flowers and insect charts are very pretty, and there are some great reproductions out there from The Evolution Store.

Botanical posters are $98. - $198.  at The Evolution Store

Ikea now has a large botanical print for only $19.99! What a deal! You can see it online at Ikea, but you can only get it at the store. We don't have an Ikea in New Orleans. The closest ones are in Houston and Atlanta. But if you are lucky enough to have one near you, grab this print. It would make a great hostess gift (winky winky).

The vintage inspired botanical chart at Ikea

Botanical charts give you a lot of bang for the buck

Framed botanical prints - I prefer the unframed charts

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Michael Smith NYC

There's a two bedroom apartment in NYC, that Michael Smith designed. I love his work, and I am always interested in what he's doing, and always hoping that pictures of his work at the White House would be released.

Anyhoo, here's a round up pictures of the NYC pad. It's 4500 square feet located in the Ritz Carlton, so you get all the fancy hotel services. It's $11K per square foot! (50 million or so).

Entry hall - Michael Smith NYC

Living room - Michael Smith NYC

Corner in living room - love the banquette - Michael Smith NYC

Living room - love all the black and white art used throughout the apartment -  Love how he hung the painting on the mirror wall - Michael Smith NYC

Den - Very rich and trad - Michael Smith NYC

Beautiful  Big Girl drapes - Michal Smith NYC

Dining room - Love the white chairs used with trad dining table - Michael Smith NYC

Library - Classic - Michael Smith NYC

One of the two bedrooms - Michael Smith NYC

The second bedroom - Michael Smith NYC

One bathroom - love the stripes - Michael Smith NYC

Bathroom two - the gray marble is a nice change from white marble - Michael Smith NYC

Bathroom 3 - the gold tile and gold mirror are gorgeous - Michael Smith NYC

The kitchen with a 50 million dollar view - Michael Smith NYC

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