A Jewel of an Inn

I have long loved the jewelry of designer Renee Lewis.  I think she was the originator of the shake necklaces.  You've seen the beautiful locket like charms with teeny, tiny diamonds in them.  High end stores like Barney's and Bergdorf's sell her things.  She said of imitators of late, "Nobody was doing this back in the 70's and 80's."  Her prices are steep, but now I know what she has been doing with the fruits of her labors...

renovating an Inn, The Courthouse Inn and Restaurant in Lisbon, Ohio, near Renee's hometown. 

The original building dating back to1802 was deeded and signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  Three presidents have stayed there, one being Lincoln.  Lewis and Clarke stopped there along their expedition.  Needless to say, this little brick building has had a storied past.  Renee had hoped if she restored the exterior of this wonderful historical building it would motivate others to come forward and help revitalize it as well as the town.  That did not happen, unfortunately.  So 11 years later and with Renee's life savings, she singlehandedly saved this old beauty from the wrecking ball.

“I want to offer people something they’ve never seen, food they’ve never tasted,” says owner Renee (pronounced Rennie) Lewis. “It’s world-class. I want people to have a world-class experience in Lisbon, Ohio.”

Renee described the love of the creative process.  Treating this much like she does designing a fine piece of jewelry, no detail was overlooked. The copper bar is a perfect example of her striving to think outside the box and push local craftspeople beyond what they thought possible.

Renee has been a lifelong vegetarian, and with few options in the area, she knew this was her mission.  People come from far and wide because the inn serves an under served segment of the population in these parts.  Each of the four bedrooms in the inn has handmade mattresses, European linens, original artwork and a variety of antiques.

More faceted crystals than you can count are used throughout, including a portion of the restaurant's ceiling.  

The rooms are quirky, unique and a little sparkly.  She is a jewelry designer after all!  The artistic flow was important to Lewis.  The same attention to detail was paid outside.  Solid jade boulders from the bottom of China's Yangtze River take pride of place in the center of the square.  They had to be dredged, flown to New York, then shipped to Ohio, cut, polished and put in place.  When asked why she went to so much trouble Renee said matter of factly, "They're fabulous!"

Copper is a material used throughout.  Boulders, pavers, color and a little imagination round out this magical place with its big history.

If you restore something beautiful people will come, so if you're ever in Ohio....

ph: The Courthouse Inn and Restaurant, The Youngstown Business Journal.


I asked on Instagram just after the 1st of the year what word you would use to describe what you would like to manifest this year.  As we turned the calendar to 2017, did you choose your word for the year?  A word that you focus on, strive for, remind yourself to move towards can guide our thoughts and actions.  I am not one to make New Year resolutions.  I don't believe in them because they create opportunities for failure.  There's no right or wrong here.  I used to be of the mindset write it down, make it happen

My word is ABUNDANCE.  

It's a little touchstone throughout the year.  It is culmulative.  You are not setting a goal about what you want to achieve, you are setting a goal about who you want to be.  You may not see the effects of the universe giving you what you want at the time, but as the calendar once again turns to the next year and you look back, you might be amazed at the ways in which your word came to life.

 Live each day "as if."  As in ~  I have abundance, I have joy, I have fearlessness, I am grateful.
When you set the intention and are conscious of it, then when something happens that confirms the "as if" we feel good about it.  We want more of this good feeling that confirms "our thoughts become things"

Life is sweeter when you are consciously working on improving what isn't working.

heart graphic by LAF custom Designs

Incorporating Antiques

I attended the Winter Antique Show at the Park Avenue Armory last Friday.  I always meant to go, so an invitation from DESCARO  was just the impetus I needed to make a point of getting myself there.  I had no doubt I would love it, and I did!  The antique show, now in its 63rd year benefits the East Side House Settlement which helps bring education and resources to those who need it in the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan.


I wish I could have bought one of these faceted, hand cut crystal consoles.  They were spectacular!

Frank and Barbara Pollack American Antiques and Art, Highland Park,IL
Still life in white, Anat Shiftan

I am a big believer in incorporating antiques into an interior space.  If your space is more modern they create a great tension between the modern day and the past.  If your interior is more traditional, antiques lend an authenticity to your space that a reproduction does not.  The provenance of a piece has history that seems to radiate.  Contemporary art in a traditional setting is the easiest way to dip your toe into the look of mixing styles and periods.

If you follow me on Instagram you saw this, but this is worth mentioning again because it is so fabulous.  Maison Gerard brought in graffiti artist Faust who is known as an awesome calligrapher, to put this stamp on their back wall.  This perfectly illustrates how dynamic contemporary, vintage, and antique pieces can coexist.  It says, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."  If I had a dime....

While purchasing antiques with a pedigree may be important to some, you can get beautiful pieces at all price points.  This highboy comes with its original documentation.  According to the fascinating paper work, John Cochran once owned it (1765-1775). This dealer specializes in supplying some kind of paperwork that authenticates or educates with each piece.

Nathan Liverant and Son, Colchester,CT

I love hearing backstories of a piece, how they dealer came to it, where the piece may have come from, who it may have belonged to.  Its history makes it magical.

Herschel and Adler Galleries, New York, NY

There are really no rules when showcasing antiques.  Many elevate their "very important pieces" in a precious way focusing to their importance, but many incorporate them in a whimsical way that speaks to the desire for the history, but not taking it too seriously.  Americana has an innate character that makes them perfect for a playful look.

Kelly Kinzel, New Oxford, PA

From assorted Civil War Infantry Drums, circa 1822, in use until late 1870's to a collection of John Singer Sargent paintings surrounding a Tiffany lamp ~ the selection is vast, and the dealers, international.

Michael Altman Fine Art

One of the most intriguing booths was the jeweler Didier.  The windows invite you to peek in and linger at the jewelry that is just as much art by such artists as Warhol, Calder, Piero Dorazio, among others.

It's a great opportunity to think about starting or expanding on a collection.

Robert Young Antiques, London

Tambaran, New York

And don't think it is limited to your interiors.  An exterior space should tell a similar story.

Elizabeth Israel, Katonah NY

The show is only there till January 29th, if you get a chance to stop by.

More is More

and less is a bore.  That little ditty was coined by the imitable Iris Apfel, but Linda Rodin obviously subscribes to the same credo.  Ex model and stylist, Linda Rodin is the woman behind the cult status beauty oil collection  Rodin Olio Lusso.

Ironically, this is her motto

It's hard to believe looking at her apartment.  This is everything that I talk about NOT doing, but at the same time she has lived an extraordinary life.  She swears each object means something and holds a memory that she cherishes.  It makes me think about something a doctor once said to my grandmother.  My grandmother Rosie was a heavy smoker her whole life and was healthy by all accounts, living into her mid nineties.  Her doctor said to her during a physical in her 80's, I should tell you to stop smoking because it's bad for you, but don't because it will kill you.  So, being a rule breaker is on a case by case basis.

Instead of calling her a pack rat, she more elegantly would be considered a maximalist.  No nook or cranny was overlooked as a place to display something!  Linda's mother was an interior decorator who owned an antique shop.  She grew up around beautiful objects with provenance.

 "The plants, trinkets, and furniture that compose my external landscape all come from my internal landscape."

She has said that each item tells a story, holds a memory that she can so vividly remember, that she is able to recall the person, place or thing that any of her objects represents to her.  Linda, being a Pisces, loves the sea.  Hence her turquoise walls and extensive shell collection.  She feels like she is always by the ocean, so much so that she can almost smell the salt air and is transported there.

Linda says her home is like a warm hug.  Everything she loves is there.  Love it or hate it, no matter the type of decor you have ~ that is always the ultimate goal.

Ph: Rebecca Pollack, et al