An "A~Ha" Moment

Last week during Blogfest, which I will go into further in my next post, Newell Turner of House Beautiful and a panel of guests including ~ Michael Herold,  Jane Goldenberg and Jon Call talked about their  "a-ha" moments; what inspires them and what was a turning point in each of their careers.

House beautiful asked each of us to share an "a-ha" moment. Here's mine.  I have told this story many times because it was profound .

I clearly remember being interested in participating in a community show house a few years ago. I felt like it was the right time in my career and I was excited about the idea of creating a show house worthy room but I was terrified!

I think the reality of putting yourself  "out there" to potentially be judged, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, all contributed to my high level of anxiety.

Edgcumbe House

I toured the house and made my selection.  I turned in my paperwork, hands shaking, and waited.  All the while questioning whether I was doing the right thing.  I knew I was being silly,  I didn't fully understand was I was so fearful!

Long story shorter ~ I created A Serene Salon in a small room on the third floor.

 I was inspired by a recent trip to Turkey.  I married that with the character of the historic home, as well as old and new, rustic and refined.  It was a hit!

 I enjoyed the process, the camaraderie with the other designers, and talking to those touring the house.  My little room was accepted into a book AND  I got a job from it, which almost never happens.  I learned NEVER to let fear be a deterrent.  If I am fearful ~ that's all the more reason why I need to plow through the task at hand.

I practice this philosophy often and have taught it to my children. I never want to look back and say, I should have...

The Contemporary Furniture Fair really showed its colors

Jonathan Adler for Kohler
Jonathan Adler and Kohler are bringing color to the kitchen in a unique and fun way.  The brightly colored cast iron sinks are both nostalgic and forward thinking, fresh and functional.

Bright, saturated, bold color is transforming otherwise sterile spaces.  The International Contemporary Furniture Fair or ICFF brought with it a lot of color on an otherwise dreary rainy day.

The pixelated wallpaper pattern by Flavor Paper is definitely not for the faint of heart.  I would love this in a niche, in the back of a bookcase, or as an accent wall.  Designed by Simon Page, Flavor Paper will scale it proportionately to your space.  Their motto is, "Good design excites."  I concur.

How cute are these cubbies by Kast van ten Huis?  They actually resemble the little canal houses where they are made in the Netherlands.

I can say from personal experience, these funky chairs from innit are really comfortable.  They come in 11 colors from recycled material.

Koket features a highly edited, seductive collection influenced by fashion, fauna, design, and the decorative arts.  Their pieces tend to stop you in your tracks.

Color reform rugs, rag rugs, silk and wool rugs, they are "color proud."  I loved the original graphic rugs by Sonya; works of art in and of themselves.  Sculpture for your floor.

Polart makes furniture for indoors or out.  Team that with the illuminated accent pieces I've been seeing and you've got yourself a party.

It's a really exciting time in design.  I am always amazed at the creativity around me.  New materials and clever uses for the old.  Upcycling and recycling, inventiveness and ingenuity all converge, and when it does ~ magic happens.

The Barnes Foundation ~ Moving Masterpieces

 "The mission of The Barnes Foundation is to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of fine maintain an art gallery of works of ancient and modern art, in connection with an arboretum...for the study of arboriculture and forestry. "

              -Albert C. Barnes

Alfred C Barnes, 1926 by Giorgia di Chericio

Albert Barnes, a philanthropist, educator, and eccentric art collector amassed one of the most comprehensive private collections with some of the greatest works of the past 100 years.  Considered by some a rather radical art collection for the day, Albert concentrated on French impressionistic, post impressionistic, and early modern paintings.  He was also interested in African sculpture, folk art, and metalwork.

Barnes amassed his collection including 181 Renoir's, 69 C├ęzanne's, 59 Matisse's, 46 Piccasso's, and a host of other riches within galleries in his neo classic home in Merion, PA, an upscale suburb just outside Philadelphia.  It was designed by Paul Phillipe Cret and includes a significant arboretum and horticultural program.  Albert loved to educate.  Having had issues with "the establishment" in Philadelphia and arguments with the politicians of the day, Albert decided to collect and exhibit on his own terms.  He put many restrictions on the ability of others to enjoy his life's work.  For years neighbors complained about the traffic, noise, and lack of privacy that they had to endure.  A bitter battle raged for years. 

Albert Barnes died in a car accident in 1951 and stipulated in his will that his art work NEVER be moved.

The Barnes Collection is significant and varied.  It is estimated to be worth 25 billion dollars.  What garners the most attention, aside from the depth and breadth of the artists represented, is the style in which it hangs.  Mr. Barnes very purposely hung the art work in "ensembles"; formal arrangements guided by the principals of light, line, color, and space.  The ensembles changed as the collection grew and each piece related differently to another, whether it be a painting or iron work that might have a similar shape represented within it.

The trust was broken and the Barnes recently moved into it's new $150 million dollar home.  The modernist building was designed by NY architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien.  It is 10 times larger than the Merion space and includes a conference center, restaurant, and library.
Keeping Mr. Barnes' vision alive was the one thing that everyone agreed must be adhered to.  To that end, all the galleries were meticulously recreated and art work hung exactly as they were in Merion, inch by inch, object by object.  The ceiling was designed and built to accommodate Matisse's The Dance. 

It seems no matter whom you ask that is familiar with the controversy, everyone has an opinion about whether the city did the right thing.  Should the trust have been broken?  What good is a world famous art collection if it can't be seen by the world?  Was it entirely politically motivated?  Is the modernist building appropriate and reflective of the art inside?  It's a magnificent collection that can now be seen and enjoyed by the masses; important by anyone's standards ~ so does anything else matter?

What are your thoughts?

Ironiclly, The new Barnes Foundation sits next to The Rodin museum which was built by Paul Phillipe Cret.

Ph: Michael Bryant, The Barnes Foundation, #3 via slowpainting

The Perfectly Imperfect Home

"Any house or room remembered with pleasure has the look of being loved by those who live in it"
~ Billy Baldwin

That is the sentiment behind Deborah Needleman's book:  The Perfectly Imperfect Home.  I heard Deborah speak quite passionately, about the importance of reflecting the personality of the homeowners; a home that is imbued with life and love, whimsy and warmth.

The art of decoration is important, but not to the extent that the "soul" of the room is lost.  Nobody feels cozy in a cold, perfectly appointed room where you're afraid to put up your feet and relax.

Make sure every decorating decision contributes in some way to the beauty and comfort of your home.  It's your sanctuary.  Deborah believes, and she is certainly not alone, that the feeling of "homeyness" is lost when the decorating is too careful, too precious.  She says, "Keep it slightly humble."

You want to see signs of life in a house.  Your goal should be:  WARM and HAPPY!  Deborah gives you plenty of tips and tricks on how to do that room by room, chapter after chapter.

It's so simple you can start now:  Add textiles, throw a throw over the couch, add a few (more) fluffy pillows.  Pick out and arrange the family photos, display the kids' art work.  Strategically place jollifiers and mollifiers (things that make you and others happy, respectively) scattered about.

You want to dress to impress, but not at the expense of putting one off by pretentiousness

The book is beautifully illustrated by Virginia Johnson

Lulu DK ~ Child's Play

It's whimsical and sophisticated and colorful; there's nothing childish about the new line of fabrics by Lulu DK for Schumacher.  Lulu's thoughtful collection is ageless.   An equal mix of  bright colors and soft pastels, Lulu likes keeping it light with white backgrounds so as not to appear "dark and dense."

I love the "I Love You" fabric.  It comes in 3 color ways.

The  hand painted fabrics: 8 prints and 6 embroideries with a coordinating tape provide diverse options.  These patterns extend well beyond a sophisticated nursery and can be used in a teen's room,  rec room, sun room, an outdoor space or anywhere you want a little whimsy or jolt of excitement.

Playful names like Firecracker, Ode to Matisse, Lollipop, Cha cha and Jelly bean are perfectly suited to the playfulness of the patterns.  I think it's a really well rounded collection.

I'm a traditionalist at heart says Lulu.   "Simple is best."  So true.

phs: via Schumacher, Lulu by Amanda Marsalis

The Power of a Single Flower


Technically, the photos above/below are not of single flowers, but you get the idea...  The repetitiveness makes a dramatic statement in such a simple way.  And for a simple girl like me, you get A LOT of bang for the buck!


Formal or informal, think outside the vase.  Couple the flower with something unexpected and you've got BIG Drama; or play with proportions ~ you can't go wrong

via Belgian Pearls

Does this not have the most fabulous sculptural quality to it?  It lends itself to an event because it seems to be more of an installation and hard to maintain over a period of time but ~ oh my

A simple gesture packs a punch

You tend to see this look a lot in hotels or commercial environments.  I'm sure that's because it is cost effective.  So why wouldn't we take a cue from that?

Jan Hale Designs

Jane Packer

via Martha Stewart

Geoffery Bradfield

You're not confined to the standard upright vase either, and the addition of candles takes it to another level.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL ~ Put your own single flower arrangement together, see what you come up with, then send me pictures!!

phs: 3,6,9,12  Ken Martin