Friday, May 1, 2009

A Day at the Ohio Design Center

When the subject of moving to another city arises in our home, the first requirement that I list, okay, well, the second requirement that I list (proximity to the ocean ranks number one) is that our new home would need to be close to a Design Center. Design Centers are those wonderful places where designers can shop for all of the beautiful furnishings and finishes, those amazing items that enable us to create the finished masterpieces that make our client's hearts skip a beat when they walk into the room.

We are fortunate here in Cleveland to have the Ohio Design Center available to us for our shopping fix. I love wandering the various showrooms and seeing/shopping for all the latest fabrics, furnishings, finishes, and hardware. Seriously, I can shop - ask my husband!

Typically, Design Centers are "To The Trade Only" which means that only designers can visit these showrooms. Here in Cleveland we recently began a program where the Ohio Design Center is open to the public on Fridays. We now have two "Designer's on Call" every Friday's to assist the public with design questions that they may have or purchasing that they would like to do. To coincide with the Friday "Designer on Call" program, we are also offering seminars on design the first Friday of every month. So far the response from the public has been tremendous. Folks seem to love the seminars given by our local designers and they enjoy perusing the showrooms to see what's new and fun in the world of design.

I was one of today's "Designer's on Call" and had a wonderful time meeting everyone as they signed in for this Friday's installation of the speaker series given by my friend Christine Haught, ASID, entitled "Design Dollars and Sense." My fellow "Designer on Call" was Dawn Cook and as part of the program, we designers offer a half hour complimentary consultation. Dawn gave one new visitor to the Center a consultation and they had a terrific session together. What a great way to get people to feel comfortable talking with a designer - a 1/2 hour consultation in a relaxed atmosphere.
Baker Castel Lounge Chair pictured left

Christine's great talk was followed by a luncheon hosted by John and Kim Hall in the J Hall kitchen showroom. What a feast they prepared - it was sooo yummy!!! They have such gorgeous kitchens on display in their showroom. A real feast for the eyes.

All in all, it was a fun design day and a super opportunity to meet the public and share what we do as designers. I'm looking forward to my turn again next month as a "Designer on Call" and I am planning with my fellow designer, Dawn, November's seminar on great table settings and decorating for the holidays.

Until the next Friday chapter...happy shopping!!

The J Hall Showroom

Our wonderful luncheon at J Hall

What a feast - awesome job Kim!!

We were greeting the public outside Donghia. Don't you just love Donghia!

Baker Knapp & Tubbs is pretty awesome too. I love my salesperson - Greg! He's the best!!
They are having a wonderful sale!! I LOVE a good sale.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Diana's New Home

I recently began working with a wonderful new client, Diana. She has just purchased a new condominium and needs a little design assistance. Diana has great style and energy and she is VERY EXCITED about her new home. Given her high energy level, I knew we would have a great adventure designing the perfect space just for her.

Like all projects, we have a few parameters; clean lines, kitty proof, and economical.

After speaking with Diana I believe that she is a minimalist at heart - so not a lot of furniture or clutter, ie. clean lines.

Diana's kitty is a factor in our furnishing selections. Kitty will scratch furniture, carpet, and drapes so we will have to keep that in mind with our selections. (We had to nix the leather sofa Diana liked for fear it would be shredded.) I sent Diana a video on caps for kitty claws (they are actually super glued onto the nail!!!) but I think we have unanimously nixed that idea. No surprise - can you imagine a moving cat, super glue, nails, and fur?

Budget is another factor. We have to try to stretch our decorating dollars, so we will save where we can and where it makes sense, but spend on the items that will make the most impact. So far we have found some great furniture bargains at the Arhaus Loft and we are doing a bit of antique shopping. I think a few funky, fun antique items are going to be perfect for Diana and should help stretch the budget.

We are approaching the project in stages, working on the main areas first, and saving the guest room and loft for a later date. Here are a few things shown below that we have selected thus far.

After our meeting last night, I am off to find fabric for a window treatment (kitty factor??) and to select either a fabulous wall covering or accent paint color for the main wall in the Dining Room. I think it will be well worth the cost for the "punch" we will achieve.

Let us know what you think. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

View of Diana's Kitchen - notice the 4" back splash. It's gotta go. Diana agrees - it's outta there.

Our new glass back splash material by Artistic Tile - Opera Glass. Can't wait to see this tile installed! The glass will reflect light and brighten the area under the cabinets while giving the kitchen a little sophistication and edge. I think we have to also add some under cabinet lighting or Diana's needs a small lamp on the counter to fill the dark space with a little light.

View from the loft. Great vantage point for an overview of Diana's main floor. It has a very comfortable open feel.

Arhaus Deluth sectional. We found this in a soft dark charcoal at the Arhaus Loft and scooped it up! Really great buy!!

We also found this bookcase at the Arhaus Loft - it will be perfect for Diana's entertainment cabinet. She has lots of books so the storage factor is a bonus.

We are leaning toward this Crate and Barrel Pascal Dining Table. The 54" round is a good size for her space. My only hesitation is that the finish has a strong reddish cast. The jury is still out on this pic.

Stylish Alton banquette from Vanguard for the Dining Room. I love mixing up the seating and this banquette with a few chairs will look fantastic in her space.

Here we have a shot of the green chairs that we found for a GREAT price at the Arhaus Loft. We picked up all three - two for the Dining Room and one will serve as a desk chair. Diana can always move the chair into the Dining Room if she needs additional seating.

This is a pic of the area rug by Flor (Interface), Tufted Frond, that we are considering. I think the Flor carpet tiles will be an excellent choice for Diana. Her kitty has claws and loves to scratch the carpets (furniture too.) With the tough Flor tiles the kitty damage should be minimal, and if there is a problem, Diana can simply replace the damaged tile square with a new one. Kitty problem solved!

Awesome Milling Road bar stools - we are getting three - on sale at Baker, Knapp, & Tubbs. The stools have great style and will tuck nicely under the counter and be neatly out of the way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grey Gardens Buzz

I recently saw a promo piece for the new HBO movie, Grey Gardens, starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lange as Big Edie (pictured right - photo by Peter Strank.) I was immediately fascinated and drawn, as are countless others, to the strange lives of these two women, Edith Ewing Bouvier and her daughter, Edith Bouvier, once prominent socialites in the 1920,'s turned recluses.

Edith Bouvier and her daughter Edie Bouvier

Little Edie in her teens

Big and Little Edie in 1972

Mother and daughter, Big Edie and Little Edie, lived together in seclusion at the property know as Grey Gardens in East Hampton, N.Y. in a 28-room mansion for 54 years while the house was overrun with animals and trash, eventually falling into extreme disrepair due to lack of any upkeep. Apparently the stench from the animals was unbelievable.

Little Edie in the Living Room - 1972

Little Edie in 1972 outside Grey Gardens - you can see the sad state of the beautiful mansion

There are so many unusual facets to the Grey Gardens story and I think all of the strange twist and turns are what peaks people's interest. It certainly peaks my interest.

Big Edie in 1971 seated in the ruin

One interesting fact is connection between the Edies and Jacqueline Bouveir Kennedy Onassis; they were aunt and first cousins to Jacqueline and upon hearing of the Edies squalid living conditions in 1972, Jacqueline visited the home and paid $30,000 to have the it cleared, cleaned, and repaired. A cleaning which apparently lasted a very short time.

1971 in the front Hall

Another fascinating aspect to the Grey Gardens story is the documentary that was produced by the David and Albert Maysles in 1976 detailing this "unbelievable but true story" of Big and Little Edie. It provided an intimate and fascinating look into Big and Little Edies co-dependant and solitary lives. Here is a clip from You Tube.

Grey Gardens was sold by Little Edie to the Bradlees in 1979, two years after her mother's death. Little Edie sold it on the condition that the home would not be torn down. Mrs. Bradlee is reported to have said to Little Edie that it "just needed a coat of paint." Many had advised Mrs. Bradlee to tear the home down and rebuild as they believed that the animal stench would never leave the existing structure. Grey Gardens was not torn down but was instead carefully renovated using some of the treasure trove that Mrs. Bradlee found in the old attic space.

Grey Gardens today

Can you imagine the undertaking!!

What courage it must have take to purchase Grey Gardens. Apparently it was a phenomenal deal at the time. Whew! Labor of love.

There is a wonderful blog site devoted to all things Grey Gardens.

In 1979 when Grey Gardens was purchased by the Bradlee's

The Amazing Gardens today

The history of the magnificent gardens is a wonderful story all of it's own. I highly recommend THE MOST WONDERFUL AND THOROUGH POST detailing the history of the Grey Garden's story by Joni of Cote De Texas. I highly recommend the Cote De Texas blog. Great reading, fascinating story. Great job Joni! Get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy reading all about the story of Grey Gardens.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Last Friday I had an abundance of broccoli and decided it was time to dust off one of my old faithful recipes and make some yummy pasta with broccoli. When the mood strikes, as it did on Friday, I go a little heavy with the red pepper flakes. We had a terrific, spicy dinner with some fresh bread and a glass of wine. It is a quick, easy, and satisfying meal.

Hope you enjoy!!

PS-I have been married twice - both times to a "Steve" and the Steve in the title of this recipe is unknown - it was clipped long ago from a mystery magazine.

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (reserve a few for garnish)
2 cups fresh broccoli flowerets, chopped
1 generous dash of dried basil
1 generous dash oregano
salt and pepper
3/4 lb homemade fettuccine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk beaten well
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons dry white wine
fresh chopped parsley - optional garnish

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven on medium heat. Add minced garlic; saute until golden brown. Stir in broccoli flowerets, cooking just until crisp-tender. Add halved tomatoes, tossing gently. Cook 1-2 minutes more. Next stir in all spices, mixing thoroughly; cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes only. Pour in chicken stock, continuing to cook about 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in wine. Turn off heat.

In a very large pot, heat 4-5 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Cook fettuccine for 1-1/2 min. (no longer). Drain in colander. You may want to toss in a few teaspoons of vegetable oil to keep pasta from sticking together.

Place fettuccine in a large mixing bowl immediately; beat together cream and egg yolk and add to fettuccine, mixing well. Stir in grated cheese. Next add broccoli mixture to the fettuccine, tossing gently just until blended. Transfer to serving platter. Garnish with chopped parsley and a few cherry tomatoes. Served with additional grated Parmesan cheese or crushed red pepper.

Serves 4-5