American Dream

I meant to post these photos back in August, right after the Woodward Dream Cruise wrapped up, but I seemed to have taken a breath and we are now in the middle of September. If you are from Detroit, or have a love of classic cars, chances are you have heard of the Dream Cruise- the world's largest classic car rally. Many locals complain that the bevy of cars clog our streets & add extended time to our commutes, that the exhaust pollutes our lungs and the basic action of sitting along an otherwise commercial 4 lane road is simply ludicrous. Personally, I am not going to hate on an event that pumped somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million dollars into our local economy. I am also not going to knock someone else's passion. I have said it before, and I will say it again, it is very cool to be from a town that created history and is sustained by passion. People think cars are cool. As someone who has collected stamps, coins, marbles, poker chips and numbers other items that an average onlooker might collectively call "junk" (!), I am most definitely not going to question someone's love and interest in American muscle. Not to mention that it is pretty cool to be a city defined by makers. It's how American was built and it is the entrepreneurial spirit that should continue to challenge us to set new boundaries, drive new roads and push us to create exciting design that will last for decades and generations to come.

Now, I could really care less what kind of car I drive. But walking around and admiring all the classics, I found myself bitten by the bug. At the end of the day it's all about design. It's about art. Cars embody both design and art- in conjunction with speed, horse power and a lot of other technicalities which I cannot even begin to understand. I couldn't help but feel inspired. By the colors, the craftsmanship, the sustainable design vision and most importantly the spirit of the makers, the passion of the collectors and, as always, the inspiration that stems from the past. Designs speaks to those who listen and if you listen closely it is everywhere.

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Power of Print

  This weekend, in between a visit to the farmer's market and a string of family functions centered around food, I took some time to read a backlog of magazines. I am one who thrives off a daily dose of inspiration, but typically I take the convenient avenue and check a bookmarked blog, or read a few excerpts from an online magazine. All this can be done as a 5 minute refresher "break" from the monotony of computer work, accounting work and paper work. So, when I decided to pour myself a lemonade and take in Sunday's gorgeous weather on my deck, I actually felt refreshed.

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It's about taking the time to let your mind think. Flip the pages. Read articles on something other than a glaring, highly-pixalated screen. With almost every mag I picked up I felt overwhelmingly excited about the information flow to follow.  I would speedily flip through, just to give myself a hint of what lay ahead.  Then, I would take a step back, slow down, go through and actually read the articles. With so much visual stimulation it can seem that the pounce of excitement, felt only by something out of the ordinary, becomes harder and harder to come by. We see so much. We have access to a variety of information through a multitude of media outlets. I might read an inspiring article online, but I will have checked my email four times and taken three 5 minutes phone calls before I'm finished. Sure, I'm excited by it. But did I really study it? Do I have an in depth take away? Nope. What does this all mean? Am I turning into a hyper-franatic, information guzzling, skimmer, flipper, late twenty-something? A person who, at the end of the day, will have read news and design blogs but with such a distracted mindset that I will hardly be able to hold a thought provoking conversation on any of the subjects!? While I seem to have this frenetic self awareness, I cannot seem to fight off the mobs of media assaulting me at my every move.

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When I was about 11 or 12 we traveled to Florida for spring break. We did the typical candy & magazine stop at an airport kiosk before boarding the plane. This is the first time I can remember actually perusing the magazine stand with interest. It might be a coming of age thing, the fact that you start to take notice of what's around you. It's the age where you begin to gain independence and start to realize how people actually function in this world. My purchase for that day was an InStyle. I realize this might not paint the picture of a budding interior designer and definitely not a female scholar, but I was enthralled with the party pictures and, most importantly, the center spread highlighting past Oscar fashion winners and loosers. While at this stage in my life I was far from the interior designer you see today, I can promise you I was even farther from being a budding fashionista.  I had a pallete expander and most likely was donning a waffle shirt, jean overall shorts and my baby blue nubucks from the Bass outlet. This InStyle was like a Bible- in terms of thickness and revelations. I can't say that my wardrobe choices were at all affected, but I did haul that magazine around with me on our entire two week vacation. I probably read it backwards and forwards a dozen times. The pages were fading from my sticky, sunscreened fingers. And, when the Oscar red-carpet coverage began later in the vacation, you best believe I tuned in to get my dose of the Hollywood glitz & glamour. Also, you have to imagine my excitement that while in Florida, I found my grandma's stack of Architectural Digest's covering about a decade of Hollywood homes.  It was as if my pre teen, cultural awareness stars were aligning and I was in the midst of two weeks of enlightenment that could never be learned in school. Laying on her pale pink bedroom carpet, I flipped through pages filled with homes of actors from the golden years to the current day celebs I would recognize from my InStyle educational immersion. My world exploded with a new found knowledge and appreciation for mountain views and taffeta.

It's through print we can experience excitement of something new. In grade school it was the book catalogues where you could pick out crafts and paperbacks that you would never see on the library shelves. It was catalogue subscriptions in high school that made clothing accessible from beyond the walls of the local suburban mall (I'm not really talking about anything mind boggling- more so my pre mature foray into bootleg yoga pants). It's the way we can open our eyes to the possibilities, stimulate our imagination and realize what is possible. I sometimes feel scared I won't be able to experience the excitement of truly realizing something for the first time. I worry that I am growing out of the ability to be amazed by the previously unknown. I'm also concerned that as I am constantly ambushed with media and news the extraordinary might be categorized with the mundane, making finding daily inspiration more difficult as time goes by. This might all be true if I keep trying to find myself inspired on a stop watch. What I realized last Sunday was that, while that heart-pounting inspiration abounds, I can truly only feel it when I take the time to appreciate it. In design, a passion for creativity is at the core. What I'm learning is that, if even for a moment, I can turn off all the static and focus on what I love I will never loose that gut-wrenching excitement for the depth of imagination that keeps this world an extraordinarily interesting place to survive.

As now noted in my task reminder: Take time to breathe, create & be inspired.

Hopefully it's something I can check off every once in a while.

Design Sensory

The way we feel in an environment is typically more than just the paint color, the layout or the furniture arrangement. While these are all significant contributors, your connection with a space is truly a collection of senses and impressions. It's the rich softness of a mohair upholstered settee, the way the sun beams shine through the window, a dramatically lit piece of artwork or an artfully arranged cocktail table. In an outside environment it might be a crisp breeze combined with the perfect melody of tinkling wind chimes and far off laughter. Life is in the details. I think I might be the most receptive to the sense of scent. It is pretty notorious that a wood burning fire on a chilly winter's evening gives you that homey-cozy feeling that only winter can provide. The smell of your neighbor bbq-ing confirms that long summer's nights are in full swing.  The slight rustle of musty fall leaves and you know kids are back in school and football season is well underway.

Aside from seasonal scent signals (say that 5 times fast!) the slightest trigger can jig an moment or a memory. I walk into a garage filled with gardening supplies and fertilizer and instantly I am reminded of my grandparent's garage in North Carolina. On the other hand, give me a hot day, a warm breeze, the beach and someone striking up a Marlboro Light and I am back to being 8 years old playing in the sand with my other grandma, Bebe. Surprisingly for someone who doesn't smoke, this scent, in this instance, isn't repulsive but almost comforting. She also had those miniature French lavender soaps in her powder room. I don't encounter a miniature soap that I don't think of her.

Speaking of soap.  You know that cheap industrial pink soap that fills almost every gas station, school or medical office's soap dispenser? Yeah. You know it. It has that kind of squirmy iridescence (or, should I say iridescent!?) to it. One squeeze of that soap and I am taken back to my sophomore year of high school, feverishly washing my hands after completing yet another day of our "fruit fly experiment". Gross. Talk about making someone weary of fruit aisles for life. Another high school trigger? Gucci Rush perfume. I didn't wear this scent, but one whiff and I am dancing at Sadie Hawkins or on my way to the Euro Disco dance. There are a few other strong scents that remind me of this short, but impressionable chapter in my life, but discussing them here might make you question the image that I was ever anything but a poster child for exemplary behavior.

Votivo's Red Currant will forever remind me of my college dorm room. As I tried to make my first real space have an air of sophistication (the futon covered in a batik print sarong, christmas lights and disc chair counteracted this effort) I would lightly spritz some Red Currant before by guests arrived. This, I thought, was way better than those Glade Plug-Ins.

I might be walking the streets of my small town in suburbia, but one sewer line goes awry and I am instantly transported to my time in Chicago, walking to work with the El rumbling under my feet (conjuring up a squalid scent potion all on its own!) and the cold wind whipping around the buildings. Oh, and chocolate. For some reason Chicago always smells like chocolate.

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Where might I be taking you but a quick trip down memory lane? Well, to tell you that while I have come to the realization that I am keenly aware of scents I also am attentive to how they contribute to the overall atmosphere of a space. Like I said in the beginning, it's the details that create the ambiance. Smells activate memories. The good, the bad, the gross and the beautiful. It is my sincere hope that from now on every time I smell lilacs I will think of a perfect day biking in Innsbruck- hopefully such a memory will be as easily obtainable as a fruit fly experiment. I always try to have candles lit throughout my home while I am entertaining, but also as I sit at home by myself. It's a small indulgence that can make any moment seem a little more special. When having guests over I like to mix in one scented with non scented candles to get the overall glow of candle light without smelling like a potpourri shop. When sitting at my desk (as I am right now!) I have a scented candle lit to ease some of the mundane. I change my candles by the season- keeping a diverse mixture in a convenient chest drawer in my living room. That drawer has a smell of fall spice mixed with spring tulips sprinkled with white pine and the bold notes of a currant rose musk. It's a fun drawer to open. Making these little extra efforts are not only inviting, but elevating. It's the way you utilize a space, make it a home and help create something a little more special.

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At the end of the day I'm not sure if people will associate my scent with white pine or white tulips, but I know it won't be Marlboro Lights, industrial pink soap and most likely not fertilizer. There might be a hint of Red Currant somewhere in there- that's a habit I'm still trying to kick.

 

Rising Star

photo Let me start out by saying that I was a kid who always felt hyper inspired by watching other people's achievements. I remember sitting in my family room, in red, white and blue, watching Nancy Kerrigan in the 1992 winter Olympics.  I even created signs with poster board and Crayolas to make the at home cheering experience more personal. To me, she was a graceful image of beauty and I remember my eight year old self thinking that someday I wanted to be in the Olympics. I think I lasted five figure skating lessons before I realized that ice skating is pretty demanding. With this new found awareness, I was perfectly content to hang up my Olympic hopes. I learned how to "hockey stop" to save myself the embarrassment of snowplowing into the boards and that was all the confidence I needed to partake in the Saturday open skates at the local rink.

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I loved old movies and dreamed of being a movie star (the totally casual slash extremely badass Katherine Hepburn type), only to go to drama camp and receive the only non-talking part in "Snoopy: The Musical" with my 2 best friends. Our parents paid for that camp, so they had to find a place to camouflage our apparent lack of talent amongst a bevy of extremely melodramatic, adolescent thespians. Nothing says "don't bother coming back" like making you stand in the corner of the stage donning primary colored overalls and a sparkly top hat. For three hours.

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In high school I tried to give it my all on the golf team (In previous summers, when I wasn't bombing at drama camp, my Dad had me in golf lessons). I was the sixth girl on a five girl squad.  Please keep in mind, this was a five girl squad that had a reputation for winning championships.  When my best friend (of mutual Snoopy fame) finally convinced the coach to move me up to a varsity match, I showed up to the course just in the nick of time. Without my clubs. Then there were the couple times when Coach would drive the team to the indoor driving range (March golf in Michigan isn't necessarily sunshine and rainbows). I think the fact it was implied as the 6th man my seat was in the trunk with all the clubs (probably not in the school safety policy), only solidified my status on the team. Don't get my wrong, these girls were all my friends and I think that's pretty much why they kept me around.

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At Michigan State, I had a retail project be selected in the Top 10 of what was ultimately a national competition. I believe the judge flew in from St. Louis, or somewhere of some sort of importance, to announce the Top 3. Always having deep Detroit Pride and being a fairly social 21 year old, I was beelining it back to East Lansing from a rather chilly Tiger's Opening Day (a tradition with my other Snoopy cohort). I got the times wrong. I completely missed the announcement of the Top 3, which I could no longer be eligible for as I wasn't in attendance. I know that project would have been in the Top 3.  I will never forget the artificial condolences from my classmates, the look of disappointment from my professors or the confusion by the judge as to why someone would work for an entire semester and then show up 30 minutes late.

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All throughout high school my Dad used to ask me, "Anne, what is your passion?".  I would get all flustered and usually frustrated because I thought he wanted my passion to be golf, which it just wasn't (Now in my late 20's I am very thankful I know how to play, especially as this is my husband's passion). I just didn't think we were seeing eye to eye. I kinda get it now. He didn't care if it was golf or figure skating or musical theater, he just wanted to see me have the fire about doing something.

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As a child I don't know that my calling was ever apparent. I had a lot of enthusiasm about a lot of different activities. When I look back now, I think my penny and stamp collection (and the lesser exciting- marbles, shells and rocks) were precursors for my love of curating personal collections and collections for my clients. I think the flea market trips and hours spent in the basements of vintage book stores instilled in me "thrill of the hunt" fever. I think things started to come together for me when I learned to explore my own voice in art classes in high school and then in college when I realized "study hours" didn't necessarily mean long division and biology, but instead meant color theory and space planning. I think my passion- that deep, inner gut excitement followed by the inevitable stress that your tiny human brain won't be able to soak up every last ounce of inspiration- took a while to develop.

When I used to pull into golf tournaments as a kid crying because I was scared, my parents would tell me that these are the situations that build character. When I called my mom sobbing outside the design building because I accidentally eliminated myself from a competition where I had worked so hard to succeed, she said this is a learning experience. Life is filled with small victories and crushing defeats. It's filled with self doubt and uncertainty. It's filled with realities that can either define you or evolve you. Life takes effort. Design, by way of multiple failures and achievements, has become that swell of lightness in my heart- that antsy desire of continuous exploration- that can only be defined as passion.

On Thursday night it was announced at the Detroit Home Awards that I was the recipient of the 2013 "Rising Star" award, I was stunned. I know that's what one is supposed to say when they receive such an honor, but I was so stunned that I didn't tell my friends I was nominated, I told Scott not to come and I think I basically talked through the entire announcement until someone turned to me and said, "You went to Cranbrook and Michigan State, right?". I mean you're talking to the girl whose only job was to hold the glitzy sign through a 3 hour musical, the girl who took a lot of swings to complete an 18 hole golf match, the girl whose intentions were always good, but planner was always messy. In this instance I am so grateful. I am grateful because in the business of interior design the designer truly is the sum of many hardworking parts. I am most grateful, because know I have found my something.

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I have been overwhelmed these last couple days by the outpouring of congratulatory support from the design community, my friends and family. I truly am so lucky to have such amazingly supportive people in my life.  Maybe the sincerest endorsement came last night during family dinner. My five year old niece, Molly, was so excited to see the Rising Star article in Detroit Home Magazine, that she deemed it important enough hang on her ever evolving, yet artfully arranged gallery wall. In this case, it takes one to know one, and I think my biggest compliment is in the form of one savvy kindergartner.

 

Where You See Fit

The other week I heard that my high school photography teacher, Ms. Goodale, was retiring. Now, this didn't come as much surprise as when I was back in 11th grade she was already in the throws of middle age (at least in my high school eyes) and she had already probably put in a solid 36 years of teaching art classes to less than perfectly behaved adolescents.  Still, I couldn't help but feel that twinge of nostalgia one gets when you realize some things will just never be the same and your memories, as you had them, will cease to exist for the future students that follow in your footsteps. I can remember feeling this way when Mr. Hoffman, the 85 year old "retired" teacher (who starting working at the school in 1944), would still loyally pass out the daily news bulletin, passed away. His tweed suits, smart bow ties and round tortoise glasses were a symbol of another era, one in which students dressed up for school and a certain formal protocol dictated the daily routine. His hallmark style might have become one of the most recognizable traits of his legacy, as back at the turn on the millennium girl's hemlines were inching higher at the same rate as boy's sagging waist lines.

 

To get into photography class you had to take Drawing I. I can remember sitting in Ms. Goodale's classroom at a big drafting table, covered in the typical pistachio green blotter, the sun streaming in through the large windows. Her voice was slow and soft and drawing was such a break from the haste and commotion of a typical school day, that I would find myself fighting off sleep.  Drawing class to the 17 year old me was what recess was to the 7 year old me: I had just exchanged four-square for pencils and pastels. I always enjoyed drawing and could hold my own, but when you go to a school where the most gifted artists go on to attend Parsons, SCAD and RISD, holding your own is not really an invitation to the  semester exhibitions.  What Drawing I did teach me was an appreciation for composition and that sometimes the best work can be done on a whim- without over thinking every stroke of the pencil or smudge of the pastel. Being an interior designer there are most definitely times when perfect is all but necessary. You need measurements in the tenth of an inch, you triple check clearances and are constantly thinking about scale. But, there is something to be said for attempting to perfect the imperfect style. One that isn't a straight line. One where the fabrics are unexpectedly harmonious. One where a gnarly antique chest is juxtaposed with a wildly contemporary painting. At Michigan State every interior design freshmen had to take the collegiate version of Drawing I. Almost without fail, I would get a better grade on the piece I had done on the fly, probably before I hightailed it out of my dorm room, than the pieces I would labor over, edit and redo. This is something that I try to communicate to my clients, you have to trust your gut and give some merit to instinct. You will not necessarily make better decisions just because you toiled over them.  Give yourself a little credit and be sure-footed in the fact that the person who knows you the best is you.

When Drawing I completed it was finally onto Photography I, which was a lot trickier than I had originally anticipated. Fumbling around in the closet in the already dimly lit dark room, in an attempt to transfer the film to the processing canister was only the beginning of the journey. With much anticipation we would hang our negatives to dry to find ourselves (well, maybe just myself) rarely thrilled with the results.  I, for one, found I hardly focused where I intended and while I had spent numerous hours "staging" my subject the light would be captured in a way that the entire shot was overexposed. There weren't too many erasers in that dark room. My photography aesthetic began to unintentionally resemble a creepier, poor man's Film Noir.

 

In describing this process I can honestly say I feel like I sound 100 years old. Have I told you yet how I also had to walk 8 miles to school- even through the snow? Nah. But, seriously with the dawn of the digital age in which Photoshop, digital cameras and the ability to see a photo miliseconds after you click are truly revolutionary.  How many of us capture our lives on our iPhone's and then Instagram them for special effects? I am 100% on this train. With this little hand held device we couldn't get farther from Ms. Goodale's dimly lit dark room. It is a whole new frontier of education and endless possibilities. It is when limits start to be explored and we set out to pioneer new technologies that there are inevitably some casualties.  It is kind of bittersweet.  I heard Ms. Goodale retired because the photography class needed to be more digitally focused. I can imagine that was a pretty daunting thought. Also, I think after 36 years of teaching you have more than earned your right to embrace time for yourself. I guess the big question is while innovation is crucially imminent, how do we work to also remain relevant? This question could be applied to a wide spectrum of professions.  In interior design, like many careers, you can see the discrepancy in filing cabinets vs. cloud storage, website & blogging vs. printed marketing materials, virtual resource libraries vs. physical resource libraries. I am not saying one is better than the other- it's just what you know. I love to use antiques in my spaces and one could question how to incorporate the past and take it into the future.  That topic can be for a different time. I think we can only truly evolve with an appreciation of the past- a debt to those who set the standard to be challenged. Not to only realize how far we've come, but to recognize life, as we know, is a continual work in progress. That should keep us on our toes.

 

 

Oh, Hey There!

I have this feeling lately that time is just melting away. This doesn't have as much to do with the 100 degree + heat we have been having, but more so with the fact that the hours turn into days, the days into weeks and before I know it months are turning into years and I just cannot seem to keep up.  Scott and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary and with the amount of emails/phone calls/ text we received from some of our closest family and friends exclaiming "happy first anniversary!!", it appears this sentiment might be consistent across the board.  When I was 8 years old I wrote a poem that went a little something like this:

Where does the time go?

Where does the month go?

Where does the year go?

All to the beginning to start new again...

Thinking I was wise beyond my years, my grandma (hi Nani!) had this little ditty written up in calligraphy and it still resides, framed, in my parents guest bedroom. Now, I don't think as an 8 year old I exactly grasped how true these words would ring as I started to get older. In fact, I might have been inspired more from the chatter of my mature companions (I am an only child afterall, hanging out with lots of adults is basically in our DNA) than I was by my own actual revelations, but regardless, I was on to something.

I guess what I am getting at is that between work, family, friends, weddings & life in general I cannot believe it is August. I cannot believe I have been married two years. I cannot believe it has been a year since I started PORT. I cannot believe it has been 4 years since I moved back to Michigan and 3 since I moved into my house.  Sometimes it seems like there will never be enough hours, days, months or years to follow every idea or be the person I want to be to the people in my life.  I know I am not alone in this feeling, especially when I am apart of a generation that tends to over book, over commit and continually push ourselves to embrace the next big thing.  What I do think is that by taking each day at a time, each task as it comes our way and soaking up each moment as a learning experience or a defining experience, we can figure out how to make this time, that seems so fleeting, really count.

Chi-City and the New Stuff

Sometimes I don't know if there is anything much better than being a designer and seeing new product. Especially when that new product makes your heart beat so quickly that it basically leaps into your throat. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Not all new product gives you those first encounter jitters. Some collections can leave you in that awkward middle ground of feeling like you have to say it is "nice" (when, let's be honest, "nice" isn't really the nicest of compliments) and wondering if the designers took too many drags from the peace pipe before sending these ideas off into production. Anyway, if there is one thing that design has taught me, it is that you can really never say "never".  That might be one of my favorite parts about my job- the opportunities to be constantly surprised by people's innate creativity and translation of concept to creation.

There is the opportunity of being presented with a given setting and facing the challenge of creating an end result that is the perfect blend of the client's desired vision and your aesthetic.  There is the "recycling" of styles. So many items that were old are new again, but with a fresh twist. That dijon colored mohair that adorned your grandma's rocking chair would look dated if  translated literally straight from the era. But now, in 2012, are we seeing mohair and dijon (maybe not in that combination, but you see where I am going) making a comeback? The wearabiliy of mohair is so practical!  That bright yellow/dijon color is so punchy! And, not having lived through the 1970's, this can legally still be considered new to me. On the other hand, I have been looking through design magazines with my mom and I say "Ooooo flame stitch"  simultaneously to her "Ewwwww flamestich". Tomato- Tomaato. Anwyhoo, I digress. All I really wanted to tell you guys is that I have had a fun couple weeks Ooo-ing and Ahh-ing over new product. From reps presenting spring lines to a couple days spent down in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and beyond, I have a reenergized vision for spring and, as always, am looking forward to the creativity and inspiration that is bursting from every corner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This new rug collection was pretty awesome. I'm pretty much always a sucker for blue and white. Some of these would be amazing in a beach house with white washed floors or a funky living room.I can almost hear the breeze rustling the beachgrass, feel the sun on my face and  the taste of sea salt on my lips...

Speaking of sea salt, how awesome is this soap?

And, if you cannot get by the ocean, this was a pretty nice place to swim a few laps while visiting Chicago.

These are the windows from the pool room at the InterContinential. I loved this design... color palate and all. I also thought it was pretty awesome how they lit the architectural elements. It was a nice way to emphasize the space and detail of the room which might have otherwise been over looked.

While in Chicago I also took some time to go back to my Swedish roots in Andersonville. I popped in the Swedish American museum and picked up a couple of these little little Christmas tum-tums (I know it's May, but one isn't at the Swedish American museum every day...).

   

As I was in the neighborhood, I also popped in Brimfield where they were all about making what is old new again. I think some of you might have had a heart attack to see what they were selling, as you probably sold it at your local rummage sale in 1990. Nevertheless, it was great.

Yep, those are tuna cans. I was at the Merchandise Mart on Thursday and in the lobby they had all kinds of can sculptures. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was a little afraid if I sneezed I might set into motion the world's largest domino can exhibition, so I skedaddled on upstairs.

I used to work at the Hinson Showroom at the Merchandise Mart as a summer intern during the summers after my freshman and sophomore year of college at Michigan State. To say it felt like no time had passed is an understatement. It was as if time stood still. I remembered every twist and turn in the building, recognized faces and felt a little bit like the 2004 version of myself. I was sporting my thick tortoise rimmed glasses, so I felt a little incognito (a la Julian in Adam Sandler's "Big Daddy" movie).  One of the new showrooms that totally wowed me was Jean de Merry showroom on the 18th floor. It pretty much knocked my socks off with the pure beauty of the items. I snapped a few pictures, but they really do not do the space any sort of justice.

  

  

As always, it is a pleasure to walk around another design center and learn about new sources, see new product and meet wonderful people. After a long day trekking around the mart, I went to go and check out the model showcase homes for the Ritz-Carlton Residences on Michigan Avenue. Wow. Located in the limestone clad Farwell Building, which has always been one of my favorites along the "Magnificent Mile", the residences are in a newly created 40 story high-rise that is connected to the lovingly restored 11 story original building.

Hands down, I thought that the best unit was put together by local Chicago designer, Frank Ponterio. For taking on the smallest unit, it had the most personal and intimate feel. They almost needed to resuscitate me after I encountered the mosaic floor in the powder room. There were personal touches, surprises that made you think twice and the reinvention of classic design elements. Basically, everything that gets me really excited! This space was elegant, yet really livable and as a testament to the effort involved into creating such a personal space, we were told that the unit sold fully furnished. Below are a few quick snap shots of the space. The last three photos are from L.A based designer, Julia Wong, who created the vibe of an urban sophisticate meets laid back California glam and Javier Martin Muriel, out of Spain, who created a luxurious clean and contemporary environment. The last photo is of awesome light fixtures in the lobby.

  

   

  

If you are in downtown Chicago, go to check out the show house would be a fun way to spend an hour or so one afternoon. The other units are awesome as well, I just didn't want to be paparazzi-extraordiniare (and, um, my phone died). They also have a 20 minute video about the entire preservation project, which really hits on the passion and energy put into creating the modern day living spaces.  If those weren't enough reasons to get down there, the money from ticket sales goes to the Art Institute. In a day an age in which the arts rely so heavily on donations that might be reason enough!

One of the perks of driving to Chicago was that I was able to hit up some places that weren't exactly in walking distance. Taking a few last minute suggestions I hit up some new places on our way out of town. They were pretty... magical.

  

Alright, I am off to delight in this beautiful Saturday! I hope you all do the same... enjoy!

Spring Cleaning

I know we are all are familiar with the age old phrase "spring cleaning". Whether you are one to abide by this seasonal purging ritual, or one to forgo the customary, cathartic cleanse, there is something we can all appreciate about the "out with the old and in with the new" mantra. You know what comes hand in hand with spring cleaning? Garage sales! Filled flea markets! This past week we kicked things off into high gear. While seasonal marketing can take place year round on sites such as ebay at etsy, there is nothing that can surpass the thrill of the hunt. The real deal, in person shifting, grazing, picking and choosing is where it is at.  Here are some pictures of the last couple days and as things are looking, it seems that we will be having favorable luck all summer long.

I am envisioning these hung up in a mud room and a cottage or lake out. Perfect storage for tennis rackets, beach towels, fishing poles and possibly the occasional nerf gun. That huge disk/ bowl in the back would be a to die for fire pit. Big, hunkin' piece of metal? Bring on the s'mores.

Delicious monogram inspiration. The worn leather cover and corner silver detailing aren't bad either.

Oh heyy........ There is enough going on in this snap shot to keep oneself drooling for a long time.

Sometimes it is just amazing to see the things that people decide to collect.  This might truly be a collection to be described by the ol' saying "one man's junk is another man's treasure".

This is a gorgeous French knot table cloth is simple, but still elegant. It has such a beautiful overall design I am thinking I might turn it into a duvet cover or coverlet to have someone enjoy the pattern and design everyday!

DYING over this wallpaper.  It's looking like this might be the perfect accent for a powder room. I always love black and white and these dogs add just the right dose of humor.

Speaking of dogs.... this picture keeps cracking me up. Poor Hogan, he sometimes must wonder why human's find the silliest things so entertaining.

You see this picture and you might not be able to get the tune "99 bottles of beer on the wall...."out of your head. Like I said, garage sales always provide entertaining and surprising  twists and turns. You really get an intimate look into people's lives! I think some of these beer cans were about 50 years old. I have a feeling authentic items like this might be a set designers dream, all I see is that the idea of a "man cave" is surely not a recent concept.

Lastly, I will tell you that I am in the midst of working on my own spring cleaning. This didn't consist of purging as much as I like (although later today I will be tackling the wardrobe switch over), but more of the organization aspect. I ventured out to IKEA to get some bookcases to organize fabric samples, furniture catalogues and everything that comes from working out of your house. Obviously, the only way to approach such a retail monster is to start in the IKEA cafe with a coffee and one of their world renowned cinnamon buns. Hype up on caffeine and sugar glaze and you will feel that pep in your step needed to navigate the high seas of big-box shop shopping (that and the self inflated confidence that you can in fact assemble anything). 

I was very excited when I made it back from my retail adventure and Scott not only volunteered to unload my car, but he also was pumped to confront the task of assembling the shelves and storage units. It is well known amongst our family and friends that while Scott excels in other areas, being handy is not really at the top of the list... or anywhere near the list for that matter. That being said, coming down to the basement and seeing Scott in full assembly mode with his hockey gloves doubling as his "work" gloves was met both with both hilarity and verification that proficient in-house handy work might not be in my immediate reality.

 

Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

I've Been Hangin' Around This Town

This past weekend was a really wonderful time spent with family and  friends for the holidays. Always such a whirlwind, it was always nice to reconnect with some of the special people in life. While everyone is extremely busy in their own right, it is always nice to be reminded that the best relationships are resilient to the miles of seperation.  With the busy spring months I thought I would take a moment to share the last week in photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures don't really do these beauties justice. I picked these up down in Atlanta last fall and finally got them back from being rewired.  They are Spanish and from around the 1920s. I looked for a long time for a mercury style glass to use for the glass center, but when all my searches turned up with a opaque backing , (not allowing the much needed light to shine through) I decided to use this frosted/sandblasted glass instead and it works just great. I have to say, the most important aspect of any light fixture is a dimmer switch.  The mood flexibility that the dimmer switch gives you is really crucial. For instance, when you have an  evening out and return  home to a house with "dimmed" lights instead of a total black out, it is much more welcoming.

This chandelier also just came back from being rewired. It is an Italian wood beaded chandelier from around the 1960s. One of my favorite parts of this piece are the wood tassels.  I think they are a quaint detail that adds a lot of character to this piece. Obviously, this light is also on a dimmer.

Okay, not to be overwhelming with the lights, I swear this is the last one.  The scale of the base is really nice and hearty without being "overscaled".  The patina takes a more traditional shape and makes it casual. I like adding more formal silk box pleat shades as I think they are classic. On this lamp I especially think the shade  keeps it from feeling any sort of (gasp!) "country".

I had an installation of the PORT "Toland" Cocktail last week. I loved this one as it has a nice, chunky 3/4" thick glass top sitting flush to the edge of the frame. This table is 48" x 60", which is pretty large in scale, but because of the clean glass top I think it keeps it from looking massive.  There will be a lot of room for the owner to stack gorgeous coffee table books, candles and other special items!

What to you might look like a pile of rubbish or future fire kindling, looks to me to be a majorly awesome project.  Currently, and I completely agree, this bed looks a little tired. I am envisioning a grey finish with gold accents to make it deliciously current.  I always love  total make over, so I will be sure to keep you posted!

When purchasing the bed, I got a little distracted by these beautiful plates. Pinks, greens, golds and greek key!? Come to mama. I purchased 8 of these for a song. When Scott and I registered for china I selected a couple different patterns, but made sure to do a solid (but beautiful!) white dinner plate so I would always have a neutral backdrop for what I knew would be some amazing china finds in the future.

And, last but not least! A built in that is finally finished and now begging to be accessorized. Let the fun begin!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!

A Few Thoughts

Okay, so what is it about seasonally themed Starbucks cups that makes us so happy? When I went to get my mid day pick-me-up a few weeks back, it wasn't just the caffeine that put an extra skip in my step, but the clever and delightful cup graphics left me feeling a little more prepared to seize my afternoon.

LOVE getting new product in that is even more gorgeous in person than it is on my computer screen. I actually think I love this more than Starbucks cup graphics... but, let's be honest, they are both undeniably good things. This graphic rug is just the little bit of punch that was needed in a bathroom.  The fresh color palate and scale of the design had me all sorts of excited.

Just a little reminder that it is still winter here in Michigan. How amazing are the heavy, wet snowfalls that stick and cling to every branch?  When I woke up a couple mornings ago I was SO excited to see snow plastered to the ground that I grabbed Hogan and ran over to Cranbrook so we could soak in a perfect Michigan snowfall. Alas, halfway around Kingswood Lake, it began to rain, the gorgeous morning snowfall began to melt and I had an incredibly muddy dog. I guess this winter is going to be  stubborn and stick to the above average temperatures.

Can someone come over to my house and rip these from my grasp? Literally. Cannot. Stop. Eating Cadbury Eggs. I have never even liked these, but in an overly indulgent Target trip I decided to get in the Easter spirit and picked these suckers up. I even opened the bag in the store and threw some back as I shopped.  It has been an evil downward spiral ever since. I intentionally walk through the kitchen to grab some on my way upstairs.  I tell myself "okay... 2 more and then you MUST go to the gym". Maybe it's time for Cadbury Anonymous.

I had the best time at the framers the other day selecting frames for these antique handcolored prints I got at an auction out of Philadelphia. They are honestly so gorgeous. The color is still vibrant and the paper has a patina to it that is only the testament of time. They are street scenes of Boston, circa 1775. A cool little piece of history. To switch up the traditional framing, I decided that this smokey blue matting would really complement the prints and be a fresh alternative to cream. The gold fillet brightens the piece and the splurge of the closed corner frames really create a timeless and sophisticated look. Cannot wait to see the final product!

Went to the Southfield Antique Show with my Mom over the weekend and while we were not tempted by items for our homes or for clients, we were in awe of all the awesome vintage jewelry. I, for one, have a a love for vintage earrings, but thought these vintage bangles were so glam and fabulous I could not take my eyes off them. I did end up leaving with a snazzy new pair of clip ons, but cannot stop thinking about these. Maybe next time!

Alright, folks! Tomorrow I am off to Palm Beach for a week spent with friends celebrating the marriage of a longtime friend of mine and Scotts. We will be hanging with some of our favorite people and families. I am going to sneak away for a little bit to check on a job I have going on down there, but know the week will not fail to bring inspiration, relaxation and good times.

Have a wonderful week!

 

Little Things

Sometimes it can be the most trivial items that spark the slightest pleasure. Unintentionally, my slight little window sill became the landing pad for  trinkets that I have picked up alongside life's moments. I recently, realized that each one of these items is a small celebration of a memory. 

The succlant came from Eastern Market and the minature glove mold I picked up at Fishs Eddy while on a NYC girls weekend with some of my best friends. The "248" tin numbers are the local area code, but I purchased them at an awesome home boutique we stumbled upon on Magazine Street in New Orleans. The mint julep cup, is not quite a memory, but "borrowed" from my Mom's china cabinet. The whale bottle opener and irregular sand rock are from our honeymoon in Bermuda (that pink sand was awesome!) The wishbone is from the first Thanksgiving we had in our house. I have often wondered if this one is a little creepy, but I think in time it has grown on me.  The metal hand was a prototype for idea I had for coat hook, and at this moment this is exactly where this endeavor stands: as an idea. The hand is filled with corks from various occasions: Dinners with friends, Scott's 10 year reunion (where we hosted a couple really fun parties), the champagne popped at the Bowery, the Coppola we served at our wedding & a Rombauer that simply states "The Joy of Wine".  The starfish I got in Nantucket while on a trip out East visiting one of my best friends. The smooth grey stone came from the beach in Nice, France (who knew their beaches were so rocky!?), the small shell on top Scott and I picked up while walking the beach in Florida. The heart is pretty insignificant as it came in my February Birchbox. Herbs of Provence and a horn salt cellar finish up the lineup and are located close to the stove... as I am not a fabulous cook some herbs and a little salt can make any dish somewhat tolerable!

To me, it is fun when you look around and realize that the seemingly insignificant “things” you accumulate through life can be intertwined and help contribute to your story. Happy Saturday!

Art au Naturale

I went on a trip to the stone yard yesterday with my friend (& client!), Lauren. We had so much fun poking around and checking out all the different, amazing slabs of stone. It is remarkable that they can keep pulling these incredible formations from the earth. It also makes you realize that you can never take for granted, or underestimate the true power and beauty that exists in our natural world. Below are some pictures I snapped of the compositions that really pulled me in. The different depths and colors make these arrangements true works of art.

 

A Designer's Perfect Round

For those of you who know me, you know that my family loves golf.  It's basically a dominate gene that has found its way into the athletic heart of every generation. Then, the golfers marry golfers and I guess you could surmise it's based predominately on the fact that we are attracted to people who share the same interests.  Basically, I have had it coming at from every angle my whole life. Maternal. Paternal. Husband & my new family that he brought along with him. I like golf, but only in the perfect dose of a sunny day, 9 holes and a glass of wine at the end of the round. My Dad used to say that he would know I was mature enough for the game once the new baby ducklings on the 6th hole would command less attention then the upcoming shot. That, or when the stop at the snack shack wasn't the highlight of the round. Don't get me wrong, I can hit it around the course and hold my own but, to me, golf will always be more fun with a stocked cart, good company and a few mulligans.

Golfers are always saying how it can be that "one" shot that keeps them going. Sometimes in the middle of a pretty disappointing round you can hit the perfectly crisp and straight shot that reignites the  flame inside you and you tell yourself, "if you just practice a little harder then they can all be like this".  And so begins the golfer's addiction. We all know practice doesn't always make perfect, but when you are given the taste of what perfection can entail, then you are bound to spend a lot of time chasing it around.

What the athletic part of my family finds on the golf course, I find in auction houses, flea markets and antique shows.   And, in the virtual world we live in, I can find myself stalking antique stores from across the country at all hours of the day. I can be bidding on auctions in Texas from my bed.  In a few clicks and I am full speed ahead on the e-commerce train.  You can be buying a chest that was created before electricity was even invented (and the internet wasn’t even a glimmer of possibility!). The opportunity! The ease! The finds! This, my friend, is the interior designer’s perfect shot.

It is the chest with the perfect patina, the antique armoire that will actually house an enormous flat screen or the coolest set of antique, hand colored maps to fill an empty wall. For every good find out there you know there are many more that with the right tools, time and persistence can be found.

I had one of these days the other day. I went down to a local auction house to scope out some of their goods for an upcoming auction, and while I did not find anything that tickled my fancy, I left feeling creatively content.   I sailed down to Detroit late afternoon on Friday, giving myself an early kick off to the weekend.  After perusing the lots for about an hour I decided to get on home. On my way back, the 5 o’clock traffic and exploded container of Nutella that I found in my purse couldn’t put a damper on my spirit.  I jammed right along to an awesome radio lineup. The Stones, Petty, Winehouse and Florence kept me bopping along 75 back up to Birmingham.  By the time I got home the weekend had started and I felt the lightness you feel in your heart when you find what you do really excites you. Afterall, it isn’t always the finds that leave you breathless,  but the possibility.