Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Case Studies

Last week I finished up furniture market and I've been on the road a lot lately for work, which means that I've been carrying stacks of business cards around like a traveling salesman.

And after all that meeting and greeting I realized that I need something to hold my cards for my next trip so they don't end up scattered in a heaping mess at the bottom of my purse.

Which is why I'm pondering the idea of ordering one of the whimsical leather card cases pictured below from the artisans at Maryland's Almanac Industries.

They're just plain fun and everyone could use a little more fun on business trips, no?






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Monday, April 14, 2014

Tropical Texture

I realize it's only April but the weather over the weekend in Charleston hit the eighties and that has me thinking about a few warm-weather wardrobe additions.

This year, I'm on the hunt for all things made from or inspired by straw or raffia because the classic, beat-the-heat materials are having a moment at the moment. And beyond trends, I guess I'm just naturally drawn to the look because the texture reminds me of the weaving traditions in tropical Southern cities from Nassau to New Orleans.

Below are a few of the pieces on my wish list, from raffia espadrilles to a straw baseball hat (?!) to a glazed raffia-textured cocktail dress and powder blue raffia-textured skirt.



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Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Southern Design Library: Part VII

I'm still digging out from a whirlwind trip to furniture market and moving into a new house. But all the upheaval has its perks. For instance, yesterday I was sorting through all my design books (somehow I never think I have all that many until I have to move them!) and I found an oldie but goodie: The Louisiana Houses of A. Hays Town.


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Mr. Town was a legend and I am a great admirer of everything he contributed the residential architectural landscape of Louisiana. Like all of my favorite Southern architects, he understood the idea of place, utility, symmetry, and history.

Looking through the book made me ache to be back in those exotic, decadent, no-other-place-on-earth-like-it environs. I was lucky enough to spend a summer and then some in New Orleans once and every now in then I get a sort of homesick feeling to be back there.

But that's the power of having great design books in a curated library. They can take you anywhere you want to be without ever setting foot outside your front door.

For more information about how to add this book to your collection, click here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Style Spotting

Today kicks off furniture market in High Point, North Carolina, for the spring 2014 season and I feel lucky to count myself among the "style spotters" selected to hone in on trends.



If you're curious about what's new and now in the world of furniture, lighting, rugs, and home accessories, follow along on my Pinterest board here. And to read the bios of my fellow "spotters" click here (impressive bunch).

Off to go "spot" now!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Floors to Remember

During my time as an editor at Cottage Living magazine years ago, I fell head over heels in love with the idea of painted floors.

So much so that I painted stripes on the floors of my old porch in Birmingham, Alabama, (photo below), and I still use the idea with my interior design clients today.


Which is why I was thrilled to meet artist Sally Bennett of Mirth Studio, a brand new company that specializes in custom, hand-painted wood floor tiles here in Charleston a few months ago (photo of her studio below).


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Sally officially launches her line at High Point furniture market this coming weekend but I had the chance to include her in my column about female Southern entrepreneurs in the April issue of Southern Living. You can turn to page 28 of the issue for the full story.

For an expanded sneak peek at how amazing her things are, take a look at a few of her installations and patterns below.








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Mark my words, interior designers and style lovers around the country (including me!) will be clamoring to use her beautiful things because she's made the idea of painted floors easy to pull off without tape and tedious measuring. Also, the finish she uses is commercial grade so her tiles will stand up to the test of time, AND she takes on custom commissions. So good!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homeward Bound

You might be able to tell from this post and this post that I get attached to houses that I've lived in.

The house I grew up in, the farm my Dad built for my Mom in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the first house I bought when I was twenty-five-years-old and fixed up myself as a single girl, the antebellum mansion apartment I lived in when I first moved to Charleston, and the spot I moved out of last week: my little kitchen house on Charlotte Street here in the Holy City.

That's a lot of house keys.

And this last house, like all the houses I've lived in, was very hard to say goodbye to.

I loved it because I love the charm of small houses, because it was in the middle of the woods but still smack in the middle of downtown, because I could hear the fog horns on the river as I fell asleep at night, and because I started my new interior design and consulting business nearly two years ago at the kitchen table there (photo below).



But I also feel lucky (and excited!) to start a new chapter at my new house with my husband. We've got one hell of an adventure ahead of us in combining two very different aesthetics but the sketchbooks are out and we have big plans.

And I'm not oblivious to the fact that designing houses from scratch takes time—and a lot of it. But the little victories along the way are what's fun. The first time you hear running water in a new kitchen, the dog-tired thrill of digging up and replanting a garden in a weekend's time, the sight of a piece of tired furniture remade with labor and love.

It's just like anything in life. You have to savor the little wins to really win big in the end.

Case in point: last night I sat in our new living room looking around at the art propped against the walls, boxes stacked on boxes, and things that don't quite jibe at the moment, and I felt peaceful in that chaos. 

Peaceful because I got up and made myself a bowl of ice cream and my husband a bowl of ice cream and we propped our feet up on a few boxes, and well, it was a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Simple Life

It's been a month since I last blogged. I know! A month! But something very big happened four weeks ago: I got engaged, married, and went on my honeymoon in one week's time.

And even though some folks probably think I'm crazy and my Dad calls me his "bohemian child" for cramming the whirlwind of events into such a tiny time frame and keeping things so small in scale, I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Why? Because for as long as I can remember I've admired the fact that my maternal Grandmother's wedding was incredibly simple. She was married in the forties and like many brides of that era, she wore a suit for the ceremony because extravagance in wartime wasn't encouraged, there was a shortage of silk and lace during the war, and the practical idea that you could wear what you wore on your wedding day again in the future was the norm (photo below).



At least that's how the story was told to me when I asked about it again and again.

Don't get me wrong I'm not against big weddings. My Mom and all five of her sisters had giant weddings, my younger sister had a big wedding, and almost all of my friends who've tied the knot have had large weddings. And they were all beautiful. I've just always thought a courthouse wedding was a romantic, authentic thought.

So on the big day I honored the pared-down nature of my Grandmother's ceremony by wearing my version of a suit: a simple white shift by one of my favorite Southern designers. Then I added powder blue shoes for my "something blue", an Art Deco sapphire ring that belonged to my Grandmother on my right hand for my "something borrowed", and a retro wrist corsage made with white garden roses and hellebores by Charleston flower genius, Anne Dabney, in lieu of a bouquet (photo below).



(Photos by my wonderful friend and talented photographer, Charlotte Zacharkiw)

I don't really believe in perfect days because imperfection is a part of life, but our wedding day was pretty damn close to perfect and I didn't take one second of it for granted.

Here's to love!