Friday, June 24, 2011

A Visit with Blogging Friend, Susan, from Love Where You Live

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Susan Fox from the blog Love Where You Live

Susan and I have corresponded over the past few years and it was so much fun to actually have her in my home. We talked like we were old friends and had lunch together in a most casual way! (Read: splitting three different sandwiches,sharing with my daughter, dripping pimento cheese and chicken salad out of the bread, sipping tea and talking non stop the whole time!)

Susan had been in the hill country for a few days, visiting with girlfriends and attending the lavender festival up the road in Blanco, Texas.
She had a morning appointment in Fredericksburg, and then made the time to come over for lunch and get acquainted with me before heading on to her next stop. 
Talk about a road trip!

I have envied Susan's life for quite some time. She and her husband had a beach house in Galveston, Texas, and live in the gorgeous mountains of Colorado.

In my mind, the best of both worlds! My husband loves the mountains and I love the water. Susan and her husband have it figured out!

Is this not the cutest little cottage you have ever seen!

Susan has featured this little jewel box on her blog and it has been featured in magazines. Lucky for Susan, when she and her husband were ready to sell it, the right buyer came along quickly, and now that person, whoever she may be, is the object of my jealousy!

Susan most graciously asked if she could snap some photos at my house, and the next thing I know, she has written the most lovely post about my home in the hill country, with a clever twist on my collections and vignettes around the house. 

The entry come in.

So, even if you have toured Hill Country House before, do visit Susan here, as she adds her own spin as she sees my home through her eyes. 

Thank you so much Susan, and I look forward to visiting you in your home one day soon!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Undecorate - My Sentiments Precisely

If I could write a book, if I had the resources, the design experience, the writing skills, the ability to express myself, the whole package of talent, as that of author Chistiane Lemieux , 

I would have written Undecorate.

I am the first to devour the latest design books by well known, talented and educated designers,  those full of knowledge about the finest of antiques, art, furniture, fabrics, etc. I love certain designers more than others, finding I am consistently attracted to and recognize their work.

But, what I really love, really feel deep in my soul, to the point of passionate obsession the design of a home that truly reflects the lives and personalities of the people who live there.

Christiane says it better than I.......

"Undecorating is following your instinct, even when it's telling you to do something a little crazy,  a little different, something against the rules." 

"The homes featured in these pages reflect their owners' fearless approach to style. An approach that has nothing to do with trends (though inside you'll find all the trends that are current now, or ever have been, done pretty terrifically) , and it has nothing to do with the rules."

"Undecorating isn't haphazard style, it's not thought-free. It's about being guided by something other than the traditional constraints - whether it's your commitment to the environment,  or your love of polka dots, or the fact that you want to feel like you live in Paris when you live in Peoria."

I couldn't agree more, nor could I say it any better!!

  Everywhere you look around my house you can find a stack of design books, art books, collecting books, you name it.....anything the least bit related to design, architecture,  art and antiques, I either have it or want it!

Some are really dated, really dated..... but I can't seem to part with them, and I do reference a lot of them often!


Some are just so pretty that I pull them off the shelf time and again for inspiration.

 Many are beautiful reference books I have acquired over time, depending on my interests.

So, recently I picked up a copy of Undecorate

being attracted to, quite honestly, the pictures first.

Then I began to read and wow..... Did this book resonate with me!


As I was flipping through Undecorate for the first time, I glanced down and saw a familiar room ....then a familiar face.

I don't know if I have ever referred to her as "my friend", but my initial thought was
 "Oh look! there's my friend, Valorie"!

Now, if you are not a blogger, you must know this about design blogging friends.
We have not always actually met each other.
Quite often, we have not.

Something happens though when you read a blog post that resonates with you.

You leave a comment and sometimes what you have said inspires that blogger to comment back.

Sometimes a conversation ensues, often by email.
 You have common thoughts or interests, or not, but you find the discussion interesting nevertheless.

Sometimes the relationship continues, sometimes not; sometimes design bloggers have developed true, real life, in person friendships.

Others remain the modern day version of pen pals.

In this case,Valorie and I have not corresponded often, nor commented on each other's blogs regularly......occasionally, but not regularly.

But, I do know she is there and have followed her blog for quite some time.

Valorie is outspoken, forthright, colorful and bold, in design and in personality.

I am a people pleaser to a fault, not bold, wishing I could be more so.....but passionate about color, creative design,and  individual style reflective of a home's owners.

So, I am intrigued by and amused by Valorie.
I like and respect her, for her style and for her comfort with who she is.

She has been through some major events in her life these last few years and one would have to be totally numb not to have been touched.

Her husband, love,  and partner in life and in Tango,  Alberto, suffered a heart attack while they were out of the country and they had a terrible time of it with the events that followed.

I followed Valorie's blog posts and her appeals for help.

I loved reading of the outpouring of love and care she and Alberto received.

Valorie and Alberto received so many well wishes, monetary donations, gifts, cards and love from fellow bloggers, there was no way she could write each individually.  In true blogger form, she wrote  a long and gracious post to thank all who had reached out to them, and there were many.

Valorie has a style and a sense of self that is uniquely her own, and for this I admire her the most.

For this style, expressed in her popular blog, Visual Vamp, she was contacted by the Christiane Lemieux, for her book, Undecorate.

In Valorie's words

"The author Christiane Lemieux and the team at Dwell Studio found me because of my blog! Christiane was looking for raw talent, and spaces that were unique and personal. She also understands the great source blogs provide, a deep pool of talent, where bloggers show an unparalleled dedication to a subject and interest shared by thousands of decor lovers.

The Dwell team liked my writing, my style, and my house, and they also wanted to do something in New Orleans. Christiane is of French Canadian descent, and she feels a deep affinity for the culture of New Orleans."

When I asked Valorie is she had posted about being in the book, she replied that she had not.
Strange as it seems for her confident personality, she had not tooted her own horn....... she felt humble in this case.

I asked her if I could write a post about her being in the book, you know, brag on her a bit!
She agreed and was delighted to share some of her thoughts on the entire experience.

Read on and you will experience Valorie's beautiful way of expressing her thoughts and feelings:

"I got an email one day asking me if I'd be interested in having my home in a book. Since I am working on a book of my own, I was thrilled to be included. I have been "in print" many times throughout my long career as a stylist, an event designer, and now as an interior decorator, but this book was especially near and dear to my heart because of the concept Christiane was putting forth.

Her idea of bloggers and real people having an innate populist talent for creating well designed and beautifully decorated spaces jibed with my own feelings. She also included personal back stories about each home she chose to photograph and write about, and this makes the book have depth. And that she traveled to each location, and each home, and got to know each space, each town or city, and each home owner, this certainly adds another layer of personality and richness."

Of course, Valorie's love of color speaks to my heart. She is unafraid to create color saturated, bold interiors full of texture and shape, chock full of interesting things. Check out the lamps in the above photo. Interesting and fun, especially mixed with the cowhide rug.

I used to think I was in the minority of people who re-arrange their furniture and collections regularly, just for fun. I have learned through blogging that it is a characteristic of many design freaks lovers.

Regarding this red room, and a few other things that have changed, Valorie has this to say:

"As you know, we visual vamps are restless decorators, always changing and tweaking our homes, Decorating for us is an enjoyable and ongoing work in progress, our own homes are think tanks and labs for trying out things. I think reading blogs and getting to see all the choices out there fuels the flow of serial decorating. So when I see those pictures in Undecorate. pressed in time forever, I have a sweet nostalgia for what was then, and an appreciation for what the same rooms look like now.

As many Vamp readers know, the red office/dining room shown in the book is gone, and the Gris Gris (Voodoo) altar packed up and stored in a safe place. That altar was a direct out pouring after Hurricane Katrina, and when I decided to change the red room and put the altar away, it was symbolic of finally healing and moving on from the whole emotional journey that Katrina dealt. The altar is still there, packed in boxes, stored in a cupboard, and the power and protection it bestowed on our home and our psyches still emanates its good energy.

My hair color you see in Undecorate also changed from the firebrand red I wore during and after Katrina. That vibrant hair color was my way of saying I'm here and so is New Orleans! Now my hair color is a more relaxed soft gray/blond, much like the new color of the dining room and kitchen. I
guess you could say my hair is greige like my new choice of greige wall color!

My husband Alberto and I have gone through a lot since that photo shoot. It is sweet for us to see ourselves in the pages of Undecorate, again a frozen moment of time, happy and healthy standing on our front porch surrounded by the lush greenery, vastly enjoying the company of the entire Dwell team that also surrounded us. They are a very lovely and loving group of people. All of those ferns in the photo, froze and died in one bad winter after the shoot, and in a way Alberto froze and died one winter in Calgary. But the lush garden has come back, and so has Alberto. We still feel the love from the Dwell team, and from all the bloggers who pulled us through that winter."

I LOVE Valorie's perspective on the effects of Katrina, how they responded to it, and how it changed their lives and how they live.

The patio and garden area after Katrina.
I think one could say these two photos say a lot about Valorie , her design aesthetic for sure, but more so her style, her resilience and her attitude. 

The patio today.

And what is Valorie up to as we speak?

After two wonderful years working at the top home furnishing store Perch on Magazine Street in New Orleans, Valorie announces that she has left the shop, to do her own decor, styling, and event design projects, as well as working on her writing assignments and her book "New New Orleans Style (New NOLA Style)", and of course writing her ever popular blog, Visual Vamp.

Thank you, Valorie, for allowing me to snag all of the above photos from here and there on your blog, and for letting me brag on you and your well deserved spot in the fabulous book


Now I would encourage each and every one of you reading this post to go out and buy this book today. It will inspire you to decorate in the best way -

authentically, and creatively, through your own eyes, and from your heart.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nest Interiors and So long, Nashville, for Now.....

You know I can't go to Nashville and not visit a few design shops.....even when it IS graduation weekend and move out weekend - the latter being the MOST crazy experience ever! 

So, what is a family to do but pop over to Taco Mamacita for a frozen margarita and some Mexican food for sustenance after the move, right?

(We are talking lots and lots of kids moving out of the dorm, overcrowded and overused elevators, seven flights of stairs, up and down, up and down, boxes and boxes, and finally two loaded cars about to make a 17 hour drive back to Texas -  we needed a treat!!)

Oh, and guess what?
There just happens to be the best little design and interior furnishing shop right down the street!
Funny how that happens.

NEST Interiors,
owned by the cute and charming Stephanie Van Hoesan,

is a carefully edited mix of one of a kind art pieces, jewelry and good looking home items. Linens, dishes, lighting and furniture pieces mingle with paintings, pillows, and beautiful religious items. Organic and industrial, warm and witty - I love this kind of shop.

What caught my eye, though, and completely captured my soul were the feather flowers made by artist Micha Kling.

Each feathered flower made from of different variety of Pheasant feathers, the pieces are arranged in vintage containers. 

I so wanted to bring home a large one, but am quite happy with the two I managed to cram place carefully in a car already chock full of four years worth of college belongings.

In my entry hall at the moment, they will move around the house I am sure. I love the subtle colors with that bright little pop of red and a soft blue in the smaller one.

All natural - all so pretty.

Stephanie's shop also has a beautiful selection of organic jewelry.
The above necklaces are rich in color and texture.

Looking from the middle of the shop towards the street, you can see how one could spend quite a bit of time in here to see every little treasure packed in this glorious industrial space.

I LOVED this one on mossy log. 

Beautiful selection of handmade and interesting bracelets.

Some of the feathered flowers are enclosed in terrarium like containers. So, so pretty.

I think this one with the striated pattern of orange, black, brown and creams is just stunning.

And this one - look at that pop of turquoise - and to think it is natural, not man made. Amazing.


and more earrings.....

Chunky, organic bracelets - don't even get me started on the jewelry. 
It would take me days to decide which piece (or five) to buy!

I am going to miss my design "fixes" in Nashville.

It's a wonderful city full of personality and charm.

I will have to go back to visit again one day, even without my girl in college there!

Here are just a few memories from "our" four years there!

The famous Hugh Newell Jacobson house that I  stalked drove by at the encouragement of fellow blogger Laura Casey.
It was such a thrill to see it - the only thing better would have been if the owner had waved and invited me in!

Furnishing my daughter's room in a big, old house. She lived there one summer with five other girls. We had fun scouting around town for affordable and useful things. Here is the pink metal folding table we found at an estate sale......

and the wonderful Papason chair from Pier One.

The wonderful Haven: Sanctuary of Style in Franklin, Tennessee. Great shop!

More of Haven.

 Silly times at the Loveless Cafe.

Classic Nashville.

One of my most favorite shops in Hillside Village.

 Great spot across the street for coffee or a really good meal.

The BEST roommate's mom and roommate, EVER!

The Graduates

So long for now Nashville.....stay cool!


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