February 19, 2015

A Month In Review: O'More's ICON Lecture Series & Nashville's 2015 Antiques & Garden Show

It's been more than a whole month since I've shared anything with you on the blog?!?!  Feels like an eternity and I'm here to remedy that.   The last month has been packed with design events too good not to share, and I feel lucky that I was able to be involved in both O'More College of Design's first ever lectures series, ICONS: Past to Present, and also Nashville's 2015 Antiques & Garden Show.

O'More College of Design, my second alma mater, is a design college located in Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville.  The school sits quietly on a beautiful historic campus and maintains an excellent design program that has produced many notable designers and award-winning students.  The Angelo Donghia Foundation has awarded 5 of its prestigious Donghia Scholarships to O'More students in the last 3 years alone! 

This year I worked with a small group of students and faculty to orchestrate our lecture series, and we could not have been more thrilled with speakers who were so willing to share their stories and experiences with us.  Our speakers included Charlie Scheips, founder of Conde Nast Archives and author of Elsie de Wolfe's Paris: Frivolity Before the Storm, architect and designer Bobby McAlpine, interior designer Garrow Kedigian, furniture designer Amy Howard, Farrow & Ball's color specialist Ann Pailthorp, Southern Living Magazine editor Jessica Thuston, ceramicist and lighting designer Christopher Spitzmiller, Laurie Smith of TLC's "Trading Spaces," and Minnette Boesel (my mother!!) preservationist extraordinaire.  Needless to say, the lineup was stellar and the panels were fabulous.  Events included two lecture panels, a book signing, roundtable discussions, and a keynote dinner featuring Charlie Scheips and his book on the influential Elsie de Wolfe, the society figure of the early 1920's who is credited with inventing the profession of interior decorating and interior design.

Snapshots of the week: Our beautiful tablescape with floral arrangements donated by 2 Avid Gardeners
and menus donated by The Stovall Collection, both from Memphis.  A packed house at the
historic Franklin Theatre welcomed our panelists from all over the country.

A closeup of our tables and flowers.  Food was catered by Kristen Winston Catering.

A display of Amy Howard's beautiful furniture and custom paint products at the Franklin Theatre.

Me with our keynote speaker Charlie Scheips and co-planner Allyson at the keynote dinner
held at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

The last day! Our fantastic team wrapping up the final panel and roundtable session at our president's
historic home in Franklin.  Pictured: Steven, President Rebecca Stilwell, Allyson, me, and Mason.

And if all the excitement of that wasn't enough, our lecture series ended and no sooner began the Antiques & Garden Show.  Whether you attended the Preview Party, the Bourbon Party, the panels, or just walked the show, there was plenty to see and much to set your design-hungry sights.   Here are a few of my favorites.

Prints of Albert Hadley's sketches were available for purchase
and were on display in the center of the show.

Another fabulous print from a page of Albert Hadley's sketchbook.

A beautiful display from Holt Isom Antique in North Carolina.

More from Holt Isoms Antiques: an antique settee
with hand-painted silk pillow.

Framed intaglios and hand-painted silk pillows.

A gorgeous refurbished antique dresser, Chinese lacquer screen,
and antique lighting from King's House Antiques in Birmingham, AL.

I just about died over this silk velvet covered banquette
from Nashville's Garden Variety Design.

A beautiful combination of the indoors and out from Garden Variety Design.

Enough blue & white to send you into a tailspin!

This little hide-covered French chair was another favorite of mine.

The entry garden designed by Cheekwood.  Tres chic!

"The Living Room" garden designed by Phillipe Chadwick incorporated a beautiful display of
Albert Hadley's work and cleverly blended the concepts of "antiques" and "garden" in one space.

And these are only the tip of the iceberg!  There were dozens more vendors, dealers and artists to see, along with exquisite garden displays and beautiful tabletops arranged by Flower magazine.   If you missed either of these fabulous events I hope this helps you decide to go next year!

Until next time,

*garden images provided by Cheekwood and Adventure in Aubreyland*

November 30, 2014

Creating the "Architectural Envelope"

I'm going to go right ahead and tell you that I snagged the phrase "architectural envelope" from the ever-so-talented Suzanne Kasler.   She is most definitely one of my favorite designers to watch and learn from right now.  Her interiors have the right amount of everything - hard and soft, light and dark, glossy and dull, old and new.  Everything she does is just perfection.   

Here, I introduce my current design dilemma: to paint, or not to paint, your crown moulding and trim the same color as your walls?  Most of us have seen darker colored rooms painted the same floor to ceiling - the overall effect can be quite dramatic and hovers gracefully between cozy and sexy - but at the moment I am concerned with lighter colored rooms.   I recently painted my bedroom walls Farrow & Ball's Slipper Satin, a beautiful pale taupe-y creamy color, and the ceilings a pale blue while the trim remained white.  I love all the colors, but after living with the new paint for a few weeks, I woke up and suddenly that once-crisp white trim was staring my in the face like a giant ugly stripe around the room.  Perhaps I am overthinking it, but as a designer, I suppose this is what I do.  So I turn to Suzanne's rooms for some kind of validation and find that she is a huge fan of painting the moulding and walls the same color in a room - aka creating the "architectural envelope" for a room.  In most cases, this visually heightens the room and lets the room's form become the architectural highlight when it may otherwise have been lost in a sea of distracting colors.  She also picks that perfect shade of creamy white that works in any setting as a backdrop to both modern pieces and antiques.  Take a look at some of these rooms and see how beautifully the colors all come together within the "envelope" of the room. 

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer in design, and I also have to entertain what is on the other side of the coin.  Here is a room Suzanne did that has a color situation similar to that of our bedroom.  It is beautiful....and also has the benefit of what must be at least 10 or 12 foot ceilings. 

I'm not sure I've reached my design decision, but I am leaning toward painting the trim the same creamy white color as the walls.  Such a sophisticated and smart effect!

Until next time,


October 13, 2014

Decorating with Plates

Not so long ago a friend of mine asked if I had ever done any decorating with plates.  Oddly enough, at the time I hadn't done too much with plates, especially given my penchant for collecting china and setting pretty tabletops.  It got me thinking about adding some porcelain to the walls of our guest room to amp up the blue and white theme that is slowly building in there.  I happened to have been holding on to a pair of vintage brass sconces made to hold plates, and when I stumbled upon a forgotten pair of beautiful rice grain plates that were my grandmother's, I was thrilled!  These were the perfect touch and together look great with the other pieces in the room.   

(*For those curious, rice grain plates have a beautiful textured pattern around the rim created by actual rice grains pressed into the plate before firing. The heat burns off the grain of rice and leaves semi-translucent impressions behind.  Fun fact for the day!)

My rice grain plates over an antique chest and gold leaf mirror.
Love my vintage brass lamp and blue and white tureen!
You can hang just one plate as the perfect accent to another piece of art, or arrange several plates in a sophisticated grouping.  I'm not one for a huge smattering of mismatched china covering a wall, but rather prefer a thoughtfully edited selection in just the right spot.  If you don't have any plates you find worthy of becoming wall art, visit some of your local antique shops or search through Ebay to find a few that have character.  Here are a few of the many ways you can pull those old plates out and give them a new home!
Designer Liz Williams hangs the perfect collection of plates to
offset the colors of this room's Swedish décor.

A single plate is the perfect accent to this beautiful chair
and piece of art.  Lonny
An abundance of plates look striking in an aqua foyer.
 The Foodog Ate My Homework
Blue and white goes French country. Pinterest
A blue and white tablescape by Sarah Richardson beneath a collection of antique plates.
Until next time,



September 8, 2014

Beauty in Bedskirts

I remember well the bedskirt situation in my house growing up.  Pretty much every bedroom had a gathered floral bedskirt that matched equally ruffled and floral drapery, and my bedroom was no exception.   The fabric was a product of the 80's and something that probably should never see the light of day again.  Of course that was all perfectly pretty and the height of style at the time, but certainly overdone and too traditional for today's tastes.  In the last decade or so, it seems bedskirts have fallen out of favor to make way for the cleaner lines of many upholstered beds or platform beds that offer a little extra storage. 

Luckily, the norms in beskirts have a evolved quite a bit in the last few years.  In many cases a bedskirt can become an extension of the headboard when done in the same or similar or coordinating fabric to the headboard or bed frame.  They can be tailored, pleated or gathered.  They can be the foundation for heaps of beautiful bedding or simply a disguise for an unsightly box frames and legs and all the odds and ends that end up under the bed.  They can also be matchy-matchy with everything in the room or be the perfect compliment to a collection of upholstered pieces and fluffy pillows.  Whatever the case, the options are really endless.  Here are a few beautiful versions of bedskirts, from the simple to the extravagant!

The extreme - a bedskirt that matches the wallpaper and the window treatments!
Traditional style gets a fresh tweak with the addition of the turquoise trim.
Chef Alex Hitz's Los Angeles home featured in House Beautiful.

A single fabric unites the headboard, bedskirt, drapery and stool.
Traditional, but updated!

Scalloped Matouk bedding and contrasting trim on roman shades and bedskirts.

Love the combo.  Blue and white is always right!

A simple pleated linen bedskirt is grounds a neutral bedroom. Phoebe Howard

A bedroom with high ceilings stays light and airy with a simple box pleated white linen bedskirt.

A bright coral bedskirt and printed shade brighten up a guest room.  Massucco Warner Miller

Neutral banding on a Matouk bedskirt make for a beautiful bedroom
Traditional Home

Until next time,


August 22, 2014

The Lutyens Bench

When something is done well, it tends to stick around, and the Lutyens bench is no exception.  Over a century ago a famed British architect by the name of Sir Edwin Lutyens designed this bench to go in one of the many gardens he created with garden designer and horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll, and the creation continued to appear in many of their gardens after that.  Since then the bench has become a classic, synonymous with relaxed elegance in the world of gardens.  It is beautiful in any garden setting and especially suited to those that have elements so often found in traditional English and French gardens like those that complement the estates designed by Lutyens himself - flagstone paths and stone walls, worn brick, and crisp lush greenery of boxwoods and other plants.  Take a look at some of the gardens both old and new and see how beautifully they stand the test of time. 

Bench in a gorgeous Charleston, SC garden.  Traditional Home

Mark D. Sikes via Instagram

Bench in the rose garden of Sissinghurst Castle, England, designed by Lutyens

A bench in a historic French home designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1898. GardenPhotoStream

An intimate sitting area within the sprawling Hestercombe gardens in England source

A bench in the rose garden of a Sussex England home designed by Lutyens in 1903 source

Abbey House Gardens, England. Pinterest

Beautiful English garden. Pinterest

White bench and white flowers. Pinterest

If you're in the market for one of these beautiful benches, there are several good looking versions available in shorter and wider widths if you know where to look.   Many versions can run you well over one to two thousand dollars, but this one is great for the price at just a few hundred!

Safavieh Khara Bench on Wayfair

Until next time,


August 18, 2014

Around The Happy House: Master Bedroom Sneak Peek

Our master bedroom re-do is underway and I'm excited to share a little snippet of our progress.  It always amazes me that master bedrooms tend to fall to the bottom of the To-Do List when people move into a new home.  You would think that the bedroom - the place that is the one area of the house that is for you, the homeowner, and no one else, and hopefully the place in which you spend a good chunk of your time away from the rest of the world - would be the first place to make your own.  But we all know that when it's time to start chipping away at getting your house in order, it's the rooms that other people see the most that we pour our energy into first.  The proof is right here: we've got ME, the décor aficionado, three years into our home and just now finally tackling the bedroom.  So without further ado, here are is a sneak peek at what's brewing at The Happy House...


The before is pretty drab.  We got the bed we wanted when we moved in, but everything else stayed as it was.  Plaid curtains hung low, inherited chairs with dated fabric, and a paint color that now seems a tad juvenile for us.  I wanted something sophisticated but also relaxing and soothing.  

A soothing color palette and mix of mix of textures coming together...

Almost there!

I pulled the trigger on the custom silk drapery I've been longing for in a beautiful blue-green dupioni fabric and hung them almost all the way up to the moulding.  The walls and ceiling (!) got a new color, and the pillows I designed and made myself.  We still have a ways to go...two chairs are out being recovered, we are about to make a decision on our floors, and I've got another or pillow or two to create.   Can't wait to show you the final product!

Until next time,

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