Friday, November 30, 2012

Gray Is Here To Stay - Yes Or No?

I recently had a little consult job for a young lady. Her mother was also in on the meeting. She just purchased her first home. I gave her tips on furniture placement, a soft kitchen renovation, using what she owned, selling things that didn't work, shopping tips for pieces she needed, and paint color. I suggested gray walls.

Gray should have been the 2012 color of the year

The ladies are from San Francisco, so they are savvy city girls. But when I suggested gray they acted like it was the first time they ever heard such an outlandish suggestion. Actually they also heard from a girlfriend, whose home I worked on.

The main objection was that it seemed like such a sad dreary color. They had a dozen paint pots and brushed the walls with swatches of a sallow yellows, clearly not right for the space, and clearly dreary despite being yellow.

Over the past two years gray has become the go-to neutral. It looks good with everything, a neutral that is a step up from white. I think the 2012 color of the year should have been gray.

If you can't make the leap to gray walls, you can introduce gray into your rooms by using furniture and accessories. The home furnishings  industry has jumped on the bandwagon so you can find so many great things in gray.

Check out my  Gray Guest Picks at Houzz - There are many more than what you see here

Check out my Guest Picks at Houzz where I found a ton of things for you to consider.

And just because I love to hear what you're thinking, gray is here to stay, yes or no?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Gift For You

The good folks at Hearst sent me a very nice book that I want you to have. Just let me know that you want it.  It would be a nice gift, or a nice addition to your design book library.

Designer Randy Florke--who has been featured in Country Living, the New York Times, People magazine, and on the Today show--showcases his warm, homey, and sustainable heartland sensibility

Florke explores his "three muses" of design--comfort, economy, and color--and presents real-life examples of rooms that radiate charm.

Economy means items chosen from flea markets, thrift stores, or grandmother's attic.

Anyone hoping to transform a home from ordinary to extraordinary will find thrifty and stylish ways to design, plus a numerous "Quick Fix" sections with cheap, fast solutions to common problems.

Just let me know you want it, and I'll pay the postage.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

The Most Beautiful

Since I started playing with other decorators on the Internet, starting years ago with the old Rate My Space site, I have been taking photos of my house to share. What an adventure it was to learn to upload photos then! RMS segued into blogging where the visual vamp emerged. Learning to post was yet another learning curve.

I take hundreds of photos of interiors and home decor furnishings and objects. They are primarily scouting shots, or photos of rooms I am working on. I have a little Sony point and shoot camera. I don't use a tripod, and I am often on the move, or have a long exposure (I hate to use flash) so the photos are, how can I say this politely, soft and fuzzy ha ha.

I don't pretend to have the talent a professional photographer has. I can compose a shot. I know what looks good editorially. But the magic and mystery of lighting, technique, and sensitivity that all combine to make a beautiful photo is well beyond my crappy scouting shots, or blog snap shots.

I have a story in the current issue of House of Fifty. I wrote, and styled it. My favorite photographer Sara Essex Bradley shot it. I think the photos are the most beautiful ones of my home that have ever been taken. And kudos to the designer of House of Ffty Shari, of little blue deer, for an amazing layout.

My little piece of swamp is a cover girl - House of Fifty

The story is about whether to decorate for Christmas or not. I'd love for you to read it and get back to me with feedback.

Excerpt of my article in House of Fifty

House of Fifty has been published for over a year by Janell Beals. She started it out of a reaction to her age when she was trying to get a job. She's neither young or nor old, but in reaction to being somewhat discarded for younger candidates, she decided to get off the anger and pity pot, and start her own magazine.

The magazine is not just for those in the House of Fifty. It's for everyone. It has wonderful articles and photos. Talent is timeless.

The house never looked so good! Photo by Sara Essex Bradley

This month Janell is trying something different. HOF has been free for over a year. The production costs are mostly paid for out-of-pocket, that is, out of Janell's pocket. This month you get a free preview, and then have the opportunity to purchase the online issue for $1.50.

Please buy the 172 page issue (and yes I did buy it). It's cheaper than a cup of coffee, and so much more rewarding. I think all magazines, online and newsstand, need our support. This is the best looking issue yet, and I was so excited to see the fabulous home of one of my favorite bloggers Linda Roberts of Lime in the Coconut featured.

The home of Linda Roberts is featured in House of Fifty

And yes, I am Christmas decorating again this year. It's taken me longer to get motivated, and I almost didn't do it.

I replaced an old fake green tree I had for years. It hit the trash at the end of the season last year. Most of the lights had gone out, and it was a mundane six foot tall cheap tree that no longer responded to fluffing. So I bought a new tree.

I saw a tree on QVC one night while watching insomniac TV. It fascinated me because not only was it pre-lit, it had a system where each section is plugged into the other, so there are no plugs on the light strings to attach. And it had a built-in foot switch. Genius!

The QVC tree

It was pricey, so being the bargain hunter, I found it at half the price on eBay (with free shipping!). I got a nine foot tree, the largest I have ever had. I ordered it in September, so it sat in its huge coffin-like boxes until a few days before Thanksgiving.

The QVC tree

I set it up easily enough. I went back to QVC to get links for all of you since the eBay source is sold out. Then I saw the reviews which are pretty negative!!!! I guess I am lucky that I got one of the good trees ha ha. But the trick of this tree is to follow the directions. the sections have to be lined up precisely to make the light connections.

The naked tree - I almost left it this way!

It has taken me a couple of weeks to drag out the ornaments. At first I was not going to do anything. The tree looked pretty with just the lights. I decided not to do two big trees this year, so all the ornaments from the retro tree ended up on the new nine footer.

It's a different look for sure. And like anything new you bring into the house, you have to get used to it. I'm not sure if I'm in-like with the new look or not. And I'm not sure I will drag all the rest of the house decorations out.

Will I be a Christmas HoHoHo this year? I managed to get the ornaments on the new tree

The glorious photos in House of Fifty were taken last year. That's how it goes in publishing. You work a year ahead for holiday stories. This week Sara and I are shooting another house for publication for holiday 2013.

For me last years decorations were refined to perfection. It is a look I have been tweaking for three years or so. When I look at the photos in House of Fifty, I feel like I've done it, so now what?

Stay tuned to see what happens this year, if anything. It just seems that the holidays came too fast and are too smashed together this year. And I feel like I'm living The House of One Hundred.

Get over to House of Fifty and treat yourself to the great holiday issue.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012


Today is a designated day to shop local. Here in New Orleans most of us shop local 99% of the time. We support one another in a big way. So in honor of a national day of shopping local,  I want to tell you about a new shop on Magazine Street, which is perhaps one of the best streets ever devoted to home furnishings.

Malachite - a new shop on Magazine Street - so chic!

Melissa Rufty and Adrienne Casbarian have opened a swank new place called Malachite. Melissa is the pride of New Orleans, a younger designer that has gotten national acclaim in top shelter magazines. Adrienne is the wind beneath her wings.

Come on in!

Oh boy this looks good!

Melissa confesses that like many designers and decorators, she found herself hovering on becoming a hoarder. Anyone who decorators is drawn to beautiful things, and just because you don't have room for them in your own home, or a client in mind for them, it doesn't stop you from buying.  Eventually you run out of storage space, and decide to sell off some of your semi precious finds.

Adrienne with a customer

Thank God for high class hoarding!!!

And that is exactly what the shop Malachite is all about. You are buying the fabulous stuff Adrienne and Melissa have gathered. No flash mob estate sale for these stylish girls. No way. Instead they took the street level storefront below MMR Interiors and created a chic and friendly space.

You know Melissa's work - It's been in every major magazine, a couple of design  books, and pinned onto thousands of Pinterest boards, and constantly been  blogged about

 Malachite walls behind  a bookshelf - This would be a good way to paint the back of any bookcase

Malachite walls and fab pillows, oh my!

Look at the killer desk chair! It's for sale

Malachite was the inspiration for the name. It is a semi-precious stone, and the girls love the color, a deep nuanced green. They painted the walls of the shop an almost black green. Melissa jokes that from the outside the walls look black and no one can see that they are open.

This blue mirror is one of Melissa's favorites

I love this little lion

Someone please get these chairs

The girls tell us that this is not an antique shop, but rather a place filled with their finds, all the finishing touches every home needs to make it layered and  personal and special and beautiful. There are some killer vintage pieces, which I love, because vintage is truly unique and usually one-of-a-kind.  They also sell the Bunny Williams line (Beeline) which is a great resource for New Orleans.

Malachite carries Bunny Williams Beeline - I need this Bunny Williams  table! I spy Bryan Batt's book Big Easy Style

I disagree, because the moment you see the green stripe awnings and the glimmer of exciting things through the window, you want to get in there. Malachite is located in the same little courtyard as another fab New Orleans shop, Leontine Linens.

Love the vignette, and the clam shell lamp is killer

Malachite has a great art collection that is decorative and affordable

Ooh ooh - What's that spiky thingee???

So cute and spiky

Great mix of textures

So go on over there today and pick up a gift or two (one for a friend, and one for you). And tell them The Vamp sent you.

Malachite calling card - I spy Susanna Salk's book Be Your Own Decorator

Malachite New Orleans

Their address - web site under construction

Adrienne Casbarian and Melissa Rufty welcome you to Malachite - Tell them The Vamp sent you!

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Friday, November 23, 2012


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Are you out shopping today?

What are some of your favorites shops where you live?

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Six Thousand

Watching the news this Thanksgiving morning where the chipper newsmen and newswomen blithely tell a nation of fatties that the average calorie count consumed per person on Thanksgiving is anywhere from 3000- 6000. And they didn't include cocktails and wine in the list of foods.

Anyhoo, wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

I was busy making my turkey this morning.

My turkey is stuffed with popcorn

I got the recipe from One Charming Party

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Architect, Designer, Barista, Or Engineer?

We are all bustling about, so I doubt that you have time for reading blogs. But if you are taking a break and sipping something nice, take a look at these two fun things.

Paper bag turkey - go to - One Charming Party to see how to make this - It's so cute!

It looks easy

And this cute quiz should make you smile. I found it on Houzz and cut and pasted it for you.
from Houzz:
Instructions for taking this quiz: Read the questions and answer quickly. Try not to think about your answers; just go with the first one that comes to mind for each. Then consult the answers at the bottom of the page to determine if you are or are not an architect. Good luck! 
by Coffee with an Architect

Add to ideabook
Feel free to make changes in your life accordingly.
And Happy Thanksgiving!
Kids tables - Yes or No?
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