Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I Had My Druthas

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As some of you know, and just about anyone can surmise, I am SO ready to see some results 'round here at the Chateau G. Yesterday, I decided to start working on the master (decorative) plan for this house and I pulled a fabric or two from my tinybaby library, pinned them to the wall and then it all started. I saw it! I saw the whole dining room come together and it was all a blur since the thought entered my head. My mind has been racing, my pocketbook weeping and my computer begging me to quit the abuse.

When we moved here we quadrupled our square footage. We went from a teensy, well-appointed
ranchburger to the Chateau G.  (See it here. The ol' ranchburger is the red and chartreuse interior a good ways down in the post) We laughed and cried when we moved in because ALL of our furniture fit in what is to now be known as the formal dining room. One complete half of the house was empty. And I mean empty, y'all. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. We had one wee dining table that did not fit in the kitchen window-seat and only one lonely old bed. I can now understand why people rush out and buy a whole store full of furniture....because the empty home is just so sad looking and you just want to make it stop!  Despite my evil urges to rush out to the nearest bargain furniture store and buy just to fill, I committed myself to patience and acquiring over time, which is always the best plan. Haste certainly makes waste, never forget!

In the past year-and-a-half, we have slowly purchased a few pieces including this antique flame-mahogany dining table that looks almost exactly like the one on the project board above, as well as these Louis XVI dining chairs to compliment the table and other pieces that I may detail in other posts, but for now, let's stick to the dining room.  I will need to paint and gild the wood on the dining chairs as they are a lovely pickled finish c.1990 and exquisitely upholstered in a banquet-hall navy blue and peach diamond pattern. I hope you sense my sarcasm!

Can you all imagine these chairs all parçel gilted up and upholstered in that swanky yellow and white stripe? Sass-a-frass, ma'am.

I am a staunch classicist and my taste rarely deviates to anything but. Don't get me wrong, I love to throw in a kicky piece to mix things up, but across the board, I will always reach for Veranda over Dwell anyday. I adore clean lines, I'm none too fussy and I like things to feel crisp and current, never stodgy or dated. I absolutely subscribe to the theory that if a home is decorated once and well, then you only need upgrade a little bit along the way. I say that all of the time, and a friend once told me that my business will never make any money operating with my little design doctrine. I disagreed with him and years later I saw that our favorite Grande Dame of Design, Gerrie Bremermann said it as well. Something tells me that this business model works out for her, don't you think?

So, as it stands now, I have a fraction of the components to make this room happen, but I am eagerly *yet patiently* awaiting the culmination of this ensemble to come to fruition.  Now, let's be honest, that room ain't gonna happen to the exact specifications due to cost reasons alone, but! I will do my dangdest to replicate it as well as I can, so stay tuned!  Isn't this so exciting?

Til next time,



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Can't be Normal, Can It? And an Ode to a Renowned Garden Designer

Pin It So, we bought this house knowing that a 100 year old home comes with it's own set of maintenance issues. We said to ourselves "Okay, well.... we are:  ready, willing, able, optimistic and are no strangers to DIY projects, so we can take this on. Wallpaper? Check. Painting miles of millwork? Check. Knocking down walls? Check. " Bring it, baby. Bring it.

As time would tell us, we were so smitten with the whole package and so in love with the
secret-gardenesque yard that apparently our eyeballs glazed right over THIS:

My nemesis. The Morning Glory. We have lived here just over a year-and-a-half, and we have had to do this type of major overhaul three times to date. I mean, who can keep up with that???

When I asked around last year about what to do with this mammoth of a problem, I was told to destroy the root system. I thought to myself "How am I going to even do that??? There are literally thousands of these vines everywhere and they are hidden beneath the other plants! How on earth am I going to get to all of them??"  But I trudged on, and ripped out what I could, bagged up 15 bags and to my utter dismay, had the giant overtake yet again a few short weeks later. I think I cried and sobbed and cried again and then fell on the ground and kicked my legs a bit, stood up and repeated the scene.  Back at square one. How frustrating.

So yesterday, after more kicking and screaming, grumbling and WWIII with the yard, pulling up thousands more of these things, I found out that I had not only wasted my time and energy by ripping them out, I also did the very thing that makes them thrive. What I thought was a problem has now exacerbated itself to monstrous proportions. The solution? An eyedropper and roundup on just the leaves. Never, ever rip them up. No way, that's what they LIKE. So you rip one out, and six sprout right back up. Gawd, I can't win for losing these days!

It's no secret that I have a gangrene thumb. A black thumb. Nowhere near a green thumb. See here. This is the only potted plant that I have, and let me tell you: The planter came with the house, has been in that same spot since we bought the house, and I highly doubt that anyone purposely planted the elephant ears in there.  I forget to feed my dog and cats sometimes, so watering plants hasn't exactly made the cut yet. What is that brick doing right there????? How embarrassing!

My botanical masterpiece (MW, I hear you cackling right now!) :

If you are in to gardening/landscaping at all, I admire you. I myself? I desire a simple, manicured yard with green, green and more green.

I LOVE the Australian garden designer Paul Bangay. I love that he is pared down, refined, simplistic yet his work has a strong point of view.  I just want to go and spend hours in his landscape masterpieces. I want our yard to embody this whole feel and as soon as I can get a handle on it's wild ways, I will be ripping up the existing landscaping and doing my best to imitate some of the boxwood palaces that he has created.  Now, obviously our yard is not a fraction as large as some of these places, but I think that boxwood hedges, a sculpture or two and a few strategically placed citrus trees in large planters will do me just right.

Photo via Paul Bangay

Photo via Paul Bangay

Photo via Paul Bangay

Photo via Paul Bangay

I would be in heaven if our yard looked like this! I would want to have people over all of the time, throw garden parties, do picnics. All of it.  So I'd better get cracking. Add it to the list of the 15,000 other things that we have to do around here! For now, let me go and bask in a few weeks of vineless freedom. That is until, victory is mine and I win this war for real.

Here are a few more images of ornamental boxwood gardens. I am always in awe of the amount of planning, the symmetry, the edited manner that a boxwood garden is arranged in. To me, this is the highest level of precision and the results are just breathtaking.

Till next time,



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Ultra Thin Line Between Sexy and Beautiful a.k.a. My Unhealthy Lust for Inanimate Objects

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Maison Jansen Collection has got to be some of the sexiest furniture that my eyes have ever laid upon. Steeped in classicism, not a touch too masculine nor a whisp too feminine, Maison Jansen pulled it all off with zeal and keen attention to historical detailing.  The lines are eternally crisp and clear, the finishes are beyond exquisite and the detailing second to none.  I cannot imagine a more perfect reproduction if you ask me.

Jansen Bedside tables via Greenwich Living

Jansen Dining Chairs via Habitat, Ltd. Antiques

Jansen Bureauplats via Herringbone Home

Jansen Marble Top Commode. So unusual! I cannot tell if the marble is Calcutta Oro, but either way, it spells g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!!!

One evening, in my quest for french ranges, I fell upon the Lacanche website. It was love at 1st glance. I literally gasped a great gasp and was feverishly calling Mr. Hotpiece into the living room to feast his eyes on my new crush. He "get's it", but doesn't really "get it".  I told him that I would give my left eyebrow for one of these. He thought I was joking.  One day, kittens.  One day. (and I'd better cook some spectacular meals on that thing).

I also have quite an affinity for Biedermeier Furniture in all of it's fluid, graceful curves and clever restraint.

Biedermeier Sofa via Rita Bucheit

Biedermeier Commode via Ritter Antik

Nothing is sexier than a sexy librarian, except for when the library itself is sexy!
This room is a collaboration between two design greats: Architect Gil Shafer and Designer Miles Redd. (Thanks, Joni)  Further cementing the notion that when a designer and an architect band together in a seamless, working partnership, the outcome is superb! I have always admired the symmetry within this room, the color, the simplicity. Sheer sophistication!

photo via Cote de Texas

Randy Powers has such an adept hand and does such a great job at articulating his clients point of view. His interiors exude sexiness, crispness, restraint and a strong dedication to cultivating over time. I developed a not-so-subtle crush over his work and I am still as in love with his interiors as the 1st time I ever ran across his name.

Photo via Cote de Texas


Pay me no heed, I'm just a lady.

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In other words: A brief introduction into my life and what it is that I think I'm doing in the blogopshere in the first place.

I'm a gal holding onto 29 by my fingernails. Oh, yes. We ain't getting any older than this, kids.

I am fortunate enough to have married this spectacular fella.

We have a dog named Amos who looks a little something like this. He's a quiet, stoic type and a huge mamma's boy, too.

We recently purchased this house right in the oldest neighborhood in our city. Just wait until you see the photos. Your going to DIE. The interior was duplicated from the set of  "All in the Family". You think I kid. Just watch.

And here's where I flex my Interior Decoration skills for you. I'm gonna be a stahhh, mamma!

I made those drapes with my own bayure hayunds! That is a joke, of course. They have been here since 75' and when we took them down, the windows secretly thanked me and kissed me on the cheek.

So after a year of living here and only doing projects that were not pretty, like fixing leaks, replacing the damaged iron fence and building out Mr.Hotpiece's office, I just couldn't take it any longer and decided to crack that whip.

The two of us in action are unstoppable de-wallpapering machines! We coined this weekend "The
De-Grannyfication of Chateau Ghetto" It was a long one. Trust me.

Watch your back, Miss America. I'm gaining on you.

For all of you wood lovers: Read no further. Just stop. The following is not for the faint of heart. I painted over cypress. I sure did. And I am loving every minute of white sparkly trim.

 And 8,542 hours later we arrived at this. And we are PATHETICALLY not done. (To all my friends who are like "when in the hell are they going to finish it?" just quit giving me lip and help me talk the huzz into scraping those popcorn ceilings for gawd's sake. THEN we'll be back in business.

That's me in a nutshell. Well, that is the composition of my life at this point. Not to worry, I don't plan on this being a blog about the banals of my daily life where I tell you how many times my dog ate, or what I ate for that matter.