Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A day in my life..... running a studio/factory

I enjoy posting beautiful photos of things that inspire me. However, my  every day life of designing and making furniture is far from glamorous. I thought I would share with  you some things that we have been working on the past couple of weeks. A lot of people still are not aware that we make everything in our studio/factory. I am proud to put an American Flag on our pieces and let people know that our furniture is proudly made by American Artisans! Here is an image of my precious husband Gene and our awesome leadman Ryan. They are going over a custom cabinet that we are making for a customer.  Since 70% of what we make is custom. All of our pieces start with a CAD drawing of what we are going to make. The client signs approves it and we start the building of their piece.
On pieces that are very custom we start with drawing out the piece on plywood and seeing exactly where things will go. It also allows me to see proportion and scale of things. This is the mock up of the trim that was custom made as well as the column detail that will be on the cabinet.

It is difficult to see the scale of this fabulous china cabinet. Our ceiling height in the mill is 24 feet. Ryan had to work off a rolling ladder to work on the trim detail on the cabinet. Impressive!
The cabinet took several weeks to construct and finish. We created custom art and colors and finishing. The glass and the wire in the doors are an outstanding combination. The art work on their side of the doors are actually sliding doors that hold glasses and china.The red that is in the artwork is repeated on the inside of the cabinet and is in a toscana finish.  The inside of this piece  is set up recessed  halogen lighting to allow the clients china to be seen.
We love the designer that the client uses.. His name is Peter Ferwerda. He is based out of Florida. Many designers are afraid to work outside of the box. Peter allows his imagination to lead him in his design. We are so blessed to dream with him and make his dreams come to life! Now we have to pray that this incredible piece of furniture is shipped with care by our LTL carriers. We will be making a custom crate for all the pieces to be shipped in.
Ok... here is a sneak peek at some of my spring designs. These are some fabulous acrylic chairs that we are introducing next week. I am so excited about them. Since the chairs are simple, I had fun using a really strong fabric. The flame stitch fabric is from F. Schumacher.  I am heading out to the LA bloggers convention Friday and having dinner with our friends Brooke and Steve Gianetti. I will be sure and take photos and share what happened.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Visually simplifying our decor with built ins

I am not crazy about  large plasma screens being  the focal point of a room. When we built our home in Normandy Park we created a 4 panel screen that covered the TV above our beautiful stone mantle. I also love hinging framed prints of the same style and size. You can put them on piano hinges and they fold back beautifully. I especially liked this tv cabinet. Made from reclaimed woods with  just a waxed finish.

A room can feel more calm when everything has a place and there are not too many things sitting around. I love using built ins with hand blown glass and reclaimed woods like this piece here.

This color gray is divine with this reclaimed floor. I can never have enough storage space, especially for linens.

I especially adore this built in bookcase. Using a window as the doors makes this a major  focal point of this European kitchen. . The hardware is especially fabulous. I love being able to have a special place in the kitchen for cookbooks.

Keeping open storage spaces with no doors is also a great look.

Another fabulous example of reclaimed woods. Most reclaimed woods can cost 5 times what regular wood will. Also, they are very difficult to find. I would suggest getting #1 common oak to work with. It has a beautiful grain to open up and the number one common will have more knots and things in it.  Here's a little secret! We  open up the grain of woods by sandblasting them! Just be sure and wear great eye and head gear. Then you can wax the piece and give it an aged look. If you want to have great looking counter tops with reclaimed woods. I suggest antiqued zinc. You can go to and order our antique zinc kit. It is a fabulous look on a budget.

For many more ideas and uses of reclaimed woods in interiors from this post, check out Beta-Plus series on 100 Projects using Reclaimed Woods. We are getting ready for our Rescue Restore and Redecorate tm workshop this Saturday. We have 2 spaces left. We are having the workshop at the studio. It is a big class size and you get to finish your own piece by the end of the day. We are introducing our new Parisian Furniture Paint. Sure to be a big hit! You can contact the store at 901 682 2558 if you are interested.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Decorating with reclaimed woods

I have noticed over the years that I am drawn more and more to simple lines  and great textures. I have given most of my majolica collections away and don't love plates hanging everywhere anymore. I find clean lines comforting. Order! Everything has a place and is  where it belongs. Notice in this photo, there is no large molding, no trim around the windows and the monochromatic quality everything makes it so calming. The floor is reclaimed large plank oak that has been sandblasted and waxed. It is to die for! The linen shades, windows and door are all the same color! The entire photo has great oval eye track. You go to the door first, then your eye goes to the painting and down to the bench and then to the shades. That is great design. When I was in Paris I purchased a ton of new books. This is a series of design books that are from Beta Plus. This particular post are from the book, 100 best projects with reclaimed materials.
I thought these reclaimed timbers as stairs were quite a creative way of using reclaimed beams. The floors neutral palette allows the plum velvet to become a beautiful focal point. Notice that when you want the furniture to be the most dominant it is best to have your floors and your walls the same light reflective color. Notice simple lines and no trim again!

PERFECTION!  Mid century modern influences on the sofas and a great 18th Century console with an abstract painting above it. This is interesting and comfortable at the same time. A young family can easily enjoy this room day in and day out. Notice the reclaimed large planked floor again. I have been shopping for paintings for several design clients lately. I am officially saying that I will be working on canvas again ....within the next few weeks. I have the need to experiment with en caustic as well as fresco on canvas!  I will share some photos of them when they are completed.
Can't you just hear the fire crackling .  I wanted you to notice all the reclaimed materials in this photo. The plank top is out of this world fab. As are the old bricks and beams. I only wish there were a big bouquet of flowers in the center of the table. The breakfast area below has a great painted brick fireplace surround. I love the texture of the vertical boards for the storage cabinet next to it. The simplicity and well placed pieces are so calming. Notice the storage area below the actual fireplace! Love it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Decorating with Blue and White

I have always been captivated by all things blue and white. The combination  is such a timeless,classic look. I enjoy using dead gray and white gesso furniture with very committed patterns of blue and white. Here are several amazing examples of blue and white with cream and gilt. I especially love the French gray color on the trumeau and  bed. In Carolyne Roehm's book, A Passion for Interiors. I find a great deal of inspiration from her rooms for my painted furniture designs. I hope you will be inspired by her as well. 

Seeing that I perused all through Paris looking for barometers. I thought you would enjoy seeing what a great impact they can have in an interior. I do believe that ticking is backing a come back. I enjoy using the most classic of ticking fabrics and upholstery on a cream and gilded chair.  Since the accessories are gilded. The dead gray on this settee was the best choice.

I have collected all things delft for as long as I can remember. I especially love how she uses this cream and gray/blue detailed table with a touch of gilt with the delft container. Stunning!

A display of delft vases make a great statement here. Notice how the headboard and the foot board are completely upholstered in the same fabric. Matouk linens have some wonderful white and blue bed linens. They have several chain and scalloped designs that would allow you to recreate this look. There are some wonderful blue and white toile' that can give you a similar look.

You can easily see why painted furniture has been a past time  of mine. These dead gray finishes with just the right wear and patina.... bright blue and white fabrics just pop on these finishes. One should  be really careful to allow one to become dominant over the other. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Decorating with Antiques

I am headed out today to do an install in one of my favorite clients homes. Installs are a lot of fun when it gets to the point that we are hanging paintings, putting in lamps and antique accessories. Everything starts coming together.   The pieces I select have a story and a patina and are out of the ordinary. Frankly, the idea of a lot of chotskies everywhere is down right scary to me. This particular  antiques dealer in Marche Paul Bert caught my eye with these fabulous angel wings. They are early 18th Century hand carved wings. We promised to give them a good home in Memphis if he let us buy them. 

I love paper mache and want to try my hand at this idea. The artist took paper mache and laid paper pulp  over an antique fragment to  create this relief statue. Then she hand painted it with just the right colors. It is hanging on this iron rod. I can see doing acanthus leaf fragments, column fragments... the list goes on.

I adore barometers!!!!!!!!!  Anytime you see a barometer  with blue and it has the original glass tubing and mercury still in it. BUY IT. This one was in pristine condition. The wooden back was still on it as well. There were no visible repairs and the gilt was 23kt water gilt. Barometers such as this one can cost quite a bit. This one was 3800 euros. I did find some at the flea market for less. However, they were not nearly as nice.

These sweet mirrors are harder and harder to find. The detail and water gilding was just divine on this one. This particular one was 8500 euros. The dollar right now to Euros was $1.30 to 1 Euro. I hope I don't bore you with costs etc.. I just know that the more I am aware of what things cost the more appreciation I have for them.

Fabulous 16th Century Italian mirror. Imagine this behind a backless sofa!

This trumeau wins the prize for my favorite! We are happy to say she is coming home with us. The detail on the little girl and the classical design was all me. The dead French gray was divine too. I love using trumeaus such as this one, in a powder room . The trumeau will be the focal point. I plan on using 2 small Italian iron and crystal sconces on either side of it.

These great 18th Century French urns were the most unusual  pink color. I just had to get them. I love working with dark graphite colors right now and these will be just the right touch. I have to have live flowers in our home all the time. I prefer to use white orchids. They last for weeks and are relatively inexpensive considering how long they last. I see these filled with white orchids.

Last but not least. I love it when these 18th Century French trumeaus that were once bright shiny water gilded mirrors have had all their gold leaf worn off. All we have left is the first application of gesso under the red bole. This dead flat gesso finish is so in right now. Especially with reclaimed woods and graphite and chocolate rooms. I encourage you to try our Parisian paint and redo one of your rescued pieces of furniture. This would be a great look on an old piece that you are redoing.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Marche Dauphine in Paris

Ok, so we are walking in Paul Bert on Saturday at the Flea Market. I am all about a great patina and painted furniture. I came across this adorable day bed. Of course, it is coming home with me. I loved the french mattress on top. You are starting to see French Mattress style upholstery all over the markets now! I can not wait to get this gem home and recreate it for part of the spring collection! I plan on hanging a large trumeau mirror behind it. I even see using this piece in an entry or bedroom or at the end of a hallway.
My new love is all things Scandinavian. Every time I see these benches, and they are authentic, they are very pricey. This one was over $9500.00. We are recreating some now for Spring. I do love the scrubby finish on this one. Imagine a great French mattress and some large bolster pillows! Bright yellows and pale blue fabric could be divine on this. I even love muslin.
We headed over to Marche Dauphine to see my sweet antique textile lady. I told Gene, it is like the abyss for me. I go in and think I will never get out. When I am designing a pillow and how it should look, I become very drained emotionally. I know that sounds crazy. I just want to make the most beautiful use out of such a piece of history. Fragments can cost thousands of dollars. Hence why wonderful antique tapestry pillows are an investment. Most of the fragments that I purchased were 17th and early 18th century. I will be sure and photograph them and show them to you when they are finished.

When you peruse the Restoration Hardware catalog you are sure to see this look. I have noticed the last few years that when I see something at the flea market in Paris, I will see the concept in Restoration Hardware a couple of years later. The use of chrome and reclaimed woods are everywhere! They were all over Maison et Objet.  I noticed that the same Chinese manufacturers making the same designs shown all over the market, just in different twists.  Hence why I am always for a classic timeless looks in my furniture designs and my interior design work. I want my clients to feel they have something they can enjoy forever and that their homes do not look like everyone else.

I thought these were really handsome and edgy side tables. They date 1960 and are of French origin.

The first antique piece of mirrored furniture we purchased was over 10 years ago in Paris. I love seeing mirror used in different ways on furniture. I especially liked the beveled apron and the faux bamboo legs in brass. This piece would date around 1960 as well. I have some great room designs using reclaimed woods tomorrow! I promise you will be inspired.