Tuesday, April 27, 2010

San Francisco Inspiration

Where does creativity come from?  This particular year, 2007, the inspiration came from the San Francisco Decorator Showcase which I visit each year with my best bud Lisa.  When I am in the throws of breath-taking design like those in San Fran, I always find something to spark my imagination.  The property was 2901 Broadway and was absolutely amazing.

Influenced by the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Kendall Wilkinson  rocked the house with her orange and turquoise master bedroom.  Water and sky represented by the turquoise and orange hues in the room.  I loved it so much that Lisa (my best bud) let me return to the beginning  of the tour to capture the masterpiece.  Maybe she was tired of me yapping on and on about it….

Not to be outdone by anyone in San Francisco, I brought this idea back to Texas with me – in the hopes that I would be able to somehow weasel this tangerine and turquoise into my own home.  The area to be transformed would need to be located somewhere out of the watchful eye of my adorable husband as his tolerance for “bold” is limited to fonts on his Excel spreadsheets. That being the case, I filed the yummy combo away for a future date.  Then it hit me!  The guest bath.  Used by people who normally don’t give offer unsolicited opinions (namely guests and my little men), it was the perfect place to start – almost 2 years after the inspirational moment. 

Guest baths are a remarkable place to start itching your decorating bug.  They give you a place to make some mistakes and earn small victories quickly.  With accessories from Pottery Barn and IKEA, my guest bath transformation was brilliant as well as affordable. 

Speaking of brilliant – how about that paint color?  The paint is Sherwin Williams #762  - Pacific Palisades.

Calico Corners furnished the Campbell Tangerine fabric.

The dreaded tile and a few other selected items will have to wait.  A budget is a budget – like it or not.

My second takeaway from that trip was painting doors & moldings in high gloss. The showcase house in San Francisco had a butler’s pantry with the trim painted Benjamin Moore Safety Black in high gloss.   After confirming with the tour guide, I decided to use the same high gloss black in my own space.  This small touch of paint brought unity my already simple palette.

Inspiration comes in all forms when you are tuned into the world around you.  Take for instance, my friend Jenny.  Recently, Jenny was inspired by this garment while browsing a catalog:

That quick flip through a catalog led to the creation of these beautiful pictures.  She took a simple concept and made it her own.

Even my son Ethan is in on the inspiration.  In the creation below, he pulled out a cardboard box from the recycling and his mind went crazy!  He created a house, complete with overhead lighting in the form of a pocket flashlight, with meager supplies and no assistance.  Impressive… I’m on the first floor of the house in the kitchen (must be a dream) just below the tie back curtains.  Nice going, Sabby!

Another recent project is for my niece who loves earthy browns and greens, which works well since she is having a boy.  While I was out shopping at my new stomping ground, Frisco Buy Consignment, I discovered this charming wooden duck.  It’s now become the inspiration for the nursery along with the award-winning book Make Way for Duckling. Stay tuned to see how the nursery goes from an idea to an accomplishment.  The design will be complete soon and there will be a preview.  Send your ideas my way – who knows?  I may even use them!

It’s easy to see that inspiration can come from all sorts of things:  family, tours, catalogs and nature.  Or maybe even a friend who just had to have her bedroom painted yellow.  Whenever it arrives, inspiration rarely is still.  It moves you to create something you never thought possible in ways that are seldom seen by others.  Take time to savor the inspiration and see where it leads you.  You never know….

Love, C

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Designer "Garage" Sale

Designers.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned over that last few months, it’s that they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s my new fantastically interesting j-o-b to find the outstanding designers - research them and get into their brains.  I’m especially drawn to the ones that share my same design taste -  imagine that!

Speaking of remarkable taste, a few months ago I came across a kindred soul designer named Lisa Luby Ryan.  Lisa was hosting the next meeting of Dwell with Dignity (one of my new favorite non-profits) when I noticed the posting for her Annual Upscale Garage Sale at her own home.  She has an adorable little shop in Dallas called “Vintage Living” located in Snider Plaza shopping center.  More on Vintage Living later in the blog.  Anyway, it wasn’t long before I had given my friend Jenny a quick ring to see if she was up for the trek to Dallas. 

Jenny sipping complimentary minted raspberry iced tea provided by our lovely hostess.

On Ms. Ryan’s website, she had posted the sale as starting on a Saturday so we (and some other salivating designer types) showed up only to conclude that the sale actually was not that day. However, we felt free to let ourselves into her backyard past the gate to admire her serene pool before realizing our faux-pas. (Mom if you’re reading this, please know that I tried to knock first with no answer...)  After a quick check on our iphones, we deducted that the sale was actually going to be the following Thursday.  Probably to keep people like us from barging into her backyard!

We returned the following Thursday evening, thinking we had plenty of time to get a prime place in line by arriving 10 minutes early.  Were we wrong!  The line had already formed about 25 women deep.  Yep!  It was the right day this time around. 
The desperate designers and plain folk cueing up for the big reveal at the garage sale.

Many lesser women would have headed back north to the confines of Frisco, but Jenny and I decided to rough it by sipping on chilled tea while we waited in line.  The delish raspberry tea recipe is from Dallas author Denise Gee.  Collaborating with her photographer hubbie (Robert Peacock), they have created a spectacular new cook book called “Porch Parties.”  I could not resist buying a copy of Porch Parties for myself and asked both of them to autograph it in the sale line.  (Not to worry, friends.  I will be breaking out a few new goodies from the book very soon.)
 With much anticipation, Jenny and I were finally let into the sale.  Not having been to one of Lisa Luby Ryan’s sales before, I was expecting a larger selection of merchandise.  However, you could not have asked for more beautiful items!  Fluffy pillows, elegant remnants, outstanding lamps, monogrammed linens, exquisite Christmas ornaments and to-die-for furniture was the order of the day.  We were not disappointed.

Jenny purchased a small wine opener which she intends to convert to jewelry.  (another reason I just love Jenny -- creativity running through her veins.)  In addition to the knick knacks and such, the hosts served yummy appetizers from “Porch Parties”.  Class all the way around!

Me (Carla) hob-nobbing with the hostess.

Having been in Ms. Ryan’s pool area earlier in the week, we just naturally assumed that we would get a tour of her palacial home.  The home was off limits.  A bit of a bummer being that she resides in a gorgeous home in Highland Park.  But her backyard was just as satisfying -- especially the ivy trailing on the poolside wall.

As I said earlier in the blog, Lisa Luby Ryan owns a shop called “Vintage Living” in the historic Snider Plaza shopping center in Dallas.  While you are researching Lisa, do a little research on Snider Plaza.  You will be amazed by both.  Back to my point....After hangin’ with my homey Jenny in the hood, my honey Matt met me at “Vintage Living” for a date night.  (Wow!  As I write this, I realize how dedicated Matt is to my new endeavor to actually go to a chick store on date night.  Amazing man.)
Striking a pose in front of my g-sale hostess’ darling storefront

Lucky for Matt my next date-night stop, Nest, was already closed for the evening by the time we made it to the door.  Whew!  You got off easy, sweetie.  Don’t worry.  Thursday rolls around again this week!

Now you may be asking yourself -- I thought Carla was going back to school to learn about being a designer.  That is true.  I am becoming a designer.  This is part of what designers do.  The school is just one angle on the whole experience.  Remember what your dad told you?  It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  A valuable life lesson in the world of design.

With that being said, I am not to the point of: meeting some major clients, getting paid big bucks for my time, opening a really cool retail store or disguising a cocktail party as a garage sale at my amazingly decorated home in the most exclusive neighborhood --- yet.  I’m along way off from that but let’s just say that I’m enjoying the career track thus far.  I’m coming into my own shape and size as a designer day by day and sale by fantastic sale.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Textiles, Drafting and Furniture --- OH MY!

Day one was a total surprise.  Remember earlier in the blog when I joked about my business degree background versus a liberal arts degree?  The joking is over.  They don’t mess around at AI (Art Institute of Dallas).  Our first day of class was a full 3 hour section with note taking included.  No agenda, no expectations, no course outline.  It was full on contact with the information.  Here’s what my classes reflected....

TEXTILES (Mondays 1pm - 4 pm)

Most of us take textiles, or fabric, for granted.  This class is intended to help you understand which fabric to use, where to use them and how to get them.  Sounds pretty straight forward, right?  Not too complicated.  If only it were that simple.

We are learning about the major manufacturing segments of the fabric/textile industry.  This ranges from a mill to a jobber to a retail store.  The process is actually quite fascinating.  Then there are the basics of man-made and natural fibers along with the characteristics of both. Spinnerets and filaments can be made into staples.  Also included in this Monday class, is the identification of different real-life swatches -- from Headend to a Colorcard to a Sales/Cap Set and a Memo.  There’s a quiz next week on 50 of these to be able to identify --- thank goodness for multiple choice!

I love the workbook loaded with swatches!  It sorta reminds me of a Barbie dream notebook.  Complete with 114 individual fabrics, we write down the information about the individual fabrics as we go through the class.  The workbook is due at the completion of the class in a few months.  Let’s hope that one of the boys doesn’t find it anytime soon or there could be trouble...
DRAFTING I (Mondays 6-10 PM)

Also known as really fancy writing for really creative people, drafting reminds me of practicing my cursive in 4th grade.  The purpose of drafting is to be able to properly create a usable floor plan (furniture included) to the correct scale/size along with all the pertinent symbols and measurements.  Scary.

To say that I was wary of this class is an understatement.  I had the dark feeling that it would be all math and super boring --- but I was wrong.  Upon completion of the first day, we were drafting a small house to scale using our new tools.  Out came the instructions on how to use the drafting pencils (4F and 2F) in addition of how to sharpen them -- much harder than you would imagine.  Also, how to use your newly acquired 3-D ruler where 1/4 inch = 1 foot.  Check out my redrawn floor plan that I copied off the original.  Not perfect but I’m getting there. 
Being that there are (in theory) a whole crew of contractors who will be looking at the plans, it’s critical to be able to form letters perfectly in order to give everyone a clean copy to follow when doing the work.  Thus, we are practicing lettering - ALOT.  Our practice sheets are below and yes, they do factor into our final course grade.  In addition to the these sheets, our final will consist of drafting a large house plan which we will complete over the 10 week course - how cool is that??  Crises averted with regard to math --- at least for now.

Despite the fact that most of us have no idea what our “style of decorating” is, there are those in our world who are very particular about their tastes.  They desire a specific time period -- say 21st century modern, old colonial or shabby chic.  The purpose of the History of Furniture is to understand and identify periods of furniture and architecture based in a certain point in time with the aim of benefitting future clients.

Although I was ready to start off with the Pottery Barn era (that’s a joke for all of you new to the blog out there), we started out understanding Prehistory.  Before you start to nod off into a good nap, prehistory is actually interesting.  It is the time before anything was written down.  Included in this era are terms like “post and lintel” systems which consist of 2 vertical and 1 horizontal part.  The table looking rock that you see above is an example of the post and lintel found in Stonehenge in England and is called a Dolmen.   

Also included in this time period is  a “Ziggurat”.  A ziggurat is a huge platform which slants upwards from the the bases at the bottom.  This was used in early tomb making.

The second half of class we found ourselves on the arid expanses of Egypt with the dry winds whipping through our hair.  (Ok...so i got a little carried away with the analogy but go with me on this one.)  Our trip to Egypt was really quick.  Stopping to take notes on the early funerary practices of the Egyptians (the way they buried people) with emphasis on the architectural elements of it.  Then followed by an introduction to the first architect named “Imhotep”, touching base on the pyramids and then finally landing on the famous King Tut.  Our excursion was completed with the ways to easily identify ancient Egyptian furniture.

Egyptian furniture can be identified by animals feet on the bottom of the furniture that always point in the same direction which are on top of drums. Weird but interesting.  The idea being that the drum that the animal on the feet of the furniture are sitting on allows the person sitting on the stool to take in the spirit of the animal.  The second half of class, we headed into Egypt (not literally, but you get my drift).  We took notes on Early Funerary (burials) architectural Forms, learned about the first architect name “Imhotep”, hit the pyramid and of course King Tut.  We wrapped up studying about Egyptian furniture that can easily be identified by animal feet that are always point the same direction and are place on “top drum”. The drum allows the person sitting on the stool to take in the spirit of the animal.  Notice the photograph below with the animal feet and the drums.
All in all, it was a great week.  I’ve been asked if it’s hard getting in the swing of school again after so many years off.  Outside of the usual workload and classes, the adjustment was fairly easy.  However, some more subtle stumbling blocks have popped up.  Take my last name for instance - Moss.  The first time around in college, my last name started with an “E” so needless to say I have forgotten to answer to my name being called out.  (Sorry, honey.  No offense.  Maybe after 30 years together, I’ll get the hang of this last name thing.)

The gamers and I are starting to “hang” together some  - mostly because I need their help to pull up the handouts on the “T” drive.  (you’ll have to investigate that one on your own, mommies.)  I do get some funny looks when I mention my age -- since when did I get looks for being too old????

There are some things that DON’T change in college --- couples making out in the hallways, frenzied drivers in the parking lot with the bass kicked up and “The Quiet Zone” in the library.  All in all, I am enjoying the things that I am finding out about myself and about my world around outside of Frisco.  Being outside of your comfort zone is always a good way to discover your unique qualities. School again has been life stretching and fun!  Even if I’m still looking for the “T” drive all alone.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paradise at Horchow

When I need a design fix, which could be weekly, I head to the mecca of far North Dallas - Horchow Finale (aka nirvana).
Located in Plano, Texas, Horchow Finale is an outlet for Neiman Marcus as well as their sister store Horchow. The selection changes weekly and sometimes daily.  Almost as much as Brett Favre retiring (did I mention I love Brett Farve?..I digress).  Chandeliers, necklaces, linens and bedding are just a few of the items they carry in the store. 

My friend Jen is always up for a trip to the ‘Chow. Many times we have shown up at the store with 4 kids under the age of 6 much to the dismay of the staff.  Nowadays it’s just the 2 of us so the damage to our pocket books is much larger than that of the store! 
 Before we shop the ‘Chow, we always like to grab some ‘chow’. We love the casual Italian place a couple of doors down to pump up on our carbs for our shopping excursion.  The specials are out of this world but don’t ask them to take a picture during rush hour lunch.  That’s where the “love” abruptly ends.

Discussing true needs versus wants, Jen and I usually end up with the lunch deal and some caffeine before our adventure a few doors away.  Doesn’t Jen’s salad look awesome…yes the flower is an edible artichoke.

Horchow Finale….here we come!  The pictures don’t do any of the  items justice.  We took them on the iphone. I am as much as an iphone lover as the next mac junkie, but the camera lacks some spunk.
These lamps are amazing, and the cabinet perfect!  If you could have seen the lamps in detail, you would have seen intricate beading in neutral golden brown tones on a creamy beige shade with a coordinating crackled glass base.

The cabinet (or buffet) was spectacular! With a warm wood tone, it really set the stage for the ensemble.

Lamps $345 each, Armore $1137, and accessory $180.  (and 20% off today if you spend $150.)
Speaking of lamps, the selection was out of this world on our most recent visit.  A gorgeous oblong sphere with silver plated base and top and coordinating silk shade makes this lamp a beauty. How about $228, plus another 30%, plus the Neiman’s card discount?
Within Horchow Finale, there is a small chip & dent section.  (It used to be bigger and badder until they got the boot.) The beautiful part is that an item in this part of the store is just a bit injured somehow but super discounted. Most likely, it will just need a touch up or two!  This jewel above is listed as $200 plus 30$ off because of chip and dent section and another 5% off if you use your Neiman’s card.
Oh…if I only had somewhere to put this.  My bedroom is black and white…but didn’t I already say I was finished? $41 bucks and then another %5 with the store card.
Buckets of tassels on a significant discount – totaling about $12 each. Amazing!
Mirror, mirror on the wall.  Which one do you want? I love them all!  This treasure marked $750 plus discounts previously mentioned measured well over 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide in a bronzed finish.
This accessory blew my mind.  A ceramic white and taupe glazed platter mounted on a brushed gold base.  $309 plus above mentioned discounts. Perfect behind a sofa on a table!
And what did I get?  I wish it were that blue vase sitting there.  Take a close look directly behind my left shoulder. It’s a Waterford original.  It retails for $1500 and now is $750+discounts in addition to being inscribed on the bottom by the artist himself.  If this shows up on ebay in the near future for anything over $1500, I may have wished I had bought it. But…being in school and on a budget and trying to start a business -  I stuck with something a little less flashy.

I purchased a diminutive oblong white porcelain bowl with brown trim that will hold soaps and toiletry items for my guest bath.  It was $21 in chip and dent so another 30% and another 5% with my card for a grand total of $13…yes $13…for my little trip to paradise. 

Love, C

P.S.  I started school at the Art Institute yesterday!  I met so many fantastic people and I'm already digging into the homework.  More details next week...