Friday, May 12, 2017

Pink Linen Curtains for my French Dining Room

 Perhaps I have been swayed by the popularity of blush pink in interiors this year.
It is a color that is everywhere these days....
Pink is a color I have always been attracted to, and yet it can be a bit much
in "regular" rooms, often relegated to babies rooms or young girls.  Maybe since 
I have a grand daughter on the way, this desire for more pink in my own house
was too much to ignore.
 Whatever the reason, I ordered a bolt of pink Irish linen to create
a pair of panels for the dining room windows.  I rolled out 3 yard increments
on the dining room table for each of the four panels.  These would not be lined,
yet simply hung with a straight stitched rod pocket and hemline.
 A french console with a pink marble top that used to be in my shop's foyer was installed between the pair of windows, underneath the venetian mirror.  Its a nice narrow display space for flowers, dishes, candles or whatever I want to highlight.  The pink looks pretty with the purple transferware collection.  Harkens back to my seventh grade bedroom, which as done in pink and purple with French provincial canopy bed.  The set was a little girl's dream,
 and I was lucky enough to have one at the age of 12.  
 We eat dinner in this room every night as a family, and most often we dine on placemats instead of a table cloth, as placemats are easier to launder.  I made a set of pink toile placemats about twelve years ago and they have stood up so well over time and repeated washings.  Sewing can really come in handy when you want specific styles in draperies, pillows, placemats, napkins and the like.  Sewing gives me the ability to showoff my personal style, and I won't see it anywhere else.
 A pair of antique gilded candlesticks from my blogging friend Cindy at Edith + Evelyn Vintage's etsy shop grace the French console.  She has many french accessories in her online shop.
I traded the candlesticks for some of my purple transferware with Cindy, which was really fun.
I am looking forward to seeing my old plates gracing her beautiful French home on her blog.
 My centerpiece is an antique garden trug that Matthew Mead gifted me.
I placed a pink gardening shovel in the trug that I found on our trip to Long Island.  
The shovel was about the only pink thing for sale at the White Flower Farmhouse shop.
This room's redecoration is a nod to spring and summer, 
and the lightheartedness these months bring to our daily living.  
Looking forward to the French doors opening to the courtyard, white wine and soft
summer breezes.  Centerpieces will be made up with cuttings from the garden pink roses.  
The pink draperies will get changed back to the grey after Labor Day, 
but until then, we will be in full spring and summer mode, here at Maison Decor.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grey Gardens: A Haunting Real Life Riches to Rags Tale

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful mansion built in the Hamptons called Grey Gardens. 
Grey Gardens got its name from the cement garden walls, the color of the dunes and the sea mist.
Grey Gardens would become notorious for its eccentric mother and daughter inhabitants, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, after a series of twists and turns, brought them cult status and notoriety.
A reverse story of riches to rags with celebrity relatives always makes for a great tale.
A14 room shingle style Victorian home, Grey Gardens was designed by architect Joseph Greenleaf Thorp in 1897.  Acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Hill in 1913,  Mrs. Hill designed the lush gardens that were once considered to be one of the most beautiful private gardens, with a private cement walled garden room. The home was purchased by Edith Bouvier Beale in the1920s.  Edith was a Bouvier, the same Bouvier family as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and was an aunt to Jackie.  Edith's only daughter, little Edie, was Jackie's older cousin. 
Image: HBO
 They spent time together as family members, summering in East Hampton
 as the daughters of the rich and privileged Bouvier family.
In the HBO movie Jackie Onassis is seen in shock when she visits the house.  
She called upon her aunt Edie, after she heard the house was to be condemned.  
Together they enter the walled garden to sit outside, as the stench inside is too much to bear.
Their story is one I only just discovered on my trip to the Hamptons with Matthew Mead. 
 He asked me if I wanted to see the fabled, Grey Gardens? 
 How had I never heard of this story?
He told me about the odd mother and daughter duo who lived in this decaying home.  
The husband left the mother and his daughter, and they lived for years on a modest stipend. 
 After he died and the modest trust ran out, Big Edie refused to leave her
 "beautiful Grey Gardens".  I was hooked, yes I wanted to see Grey Gardens!
 For many years, Grey Gardens was lost in overgrown brush and vines from the outside, 
and on the inside it had suffered years of neglect compounded by cats 
and raccoons who shared the home with the Beales.
Animal and human waste overwhelmed the senses, yet it was common every day living by 1970.  No electricity or running water, a leaking roof and holes in the windows and roof took its toll.  Forced by the town in the fall of 1971 to get it cleaned up or demolished, Jackie Onassis paid for the
$32,000 cost of rehabbing it so it passed occupancy and escaped a wrecking ball,
 and was granted the condition that the two Edies could remain in their home. 
 The Beales were penniless.  
Their reversal of fortune had them selling off their Tiffany silver and jewelry to pay 
for food and other necessities as time went along.  But they seemingly remained cheerful.
Image: NY Daily News
Interestingly, the Beales lived there as if there was nothing to be ashamed of.
They had created their own little world inside Grey Gardens, and it was all that mattered.
In some respects many think that little Edie's mother abducted her and forced her to live with
her behind the closed doors of Grey Gardens.  They both were dramatic characters, as you watch them in their documentary film, filmed in 1973 by the Maysles brothers, and released in 1975.
Mother wanted to be a stage singer, and Little Edie wanted to be an actress or a dancer.
The documentary made them into cult heroines.
The audience seemed taken with the eccentric pair of women, who loved singing Broadway tunes,
and dancing around the house.  Watching cats pee behind Mrs. Beale's large oil portrait, was simply  incomprehensible yet irresistible to watch.  Much like watching a car wreck, one can't turn away.
(The Beales themselves loved the documentary, when shown to them in their home.
Big Edie refused the invitation to the movie premier in NY, but little Edie did attend.)
Image: Jim Mooney, NY Daily News, Getty Archives
Their world was one that was falling apart around them, 
they carried on as if the home was still the grand old dame of its heyday~
enjoying the daily routines they had created with each other, which included singing, and recalling 
the past and reminiscing, often opposing each other's versions of their storybook beginnings.
Many moments were filmed in this entryway of the home, with little Edie marching down
the staircase to a broadway tune, or big Edie carefully negotiating the steps with her cane all dressed up in her silk slippers and fancy dress as she came down from her bedroom to entertain family members for her 80th birthday party in the decrepit dining room.  The chairs were too dirty to sit on, so little Edie dutifully put down sheets of newspapers as cushions so everyone could sit. 
 It was surreal and unnerving to watch.
Fast forward, two years after the documentary:  Big Edie died after a fall in the house. Little Edie decided to sell the house, leaving all of the contents in place.  She simply walked away from her life with "mother darling" after accepting $220,000 from Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn, of the Washington Post.  The Bradlees restored the home to its former glory, much in part because of Sally's obsession to save it and restore it as historically as she was able.  Sally found a treasure trove in the attic and used the bits of wallpaper and fabrics and antiques to piece together the restoration. Recently Sally sold Grey Gardens for 20 Million dollars after the death of her husband.  I'd like to think she was the perfect owner, and enjoyed the time she spent living in the home of the two Edies.
Little Edie ended up living in an apartment in Florida, where she swam most every day,
until her death at age 84 from an apparent heart attack.  She did not want to be buried with her mother, and after cremation was memorialized with a marker in Long Island next to her brother's grave site at a different cemetary. 
Big Edie was buried in the Bouvier family plot in East Hampton, buried alongside 
 the family that for the most part turned their backs on her for her irreverent style and eccentric ways.
Big Edie's own father disinherited her after she appeared in an outlandish costume at her son's wedding, causing embarrassment for the family.  
Theirs was a complicated family storyline, and this house held many secrets.
 On this rainy and raw spring day, Matthew Mead and I slowly approached Grey Gardens, parked the car and took a stroll in front of the infamous Grey Gardens.  Despite the pouring rain, I wanted a closer look.  The wind was blowing in from the ocean grabbing at my umbrella.  I tried to imagine what it used to look like in it's state of disrepair.  The heavy gnarled limbs of brush out by the front of the road seemed original to the landscape, and perhaps were left in place as a nod to the Beales residency and the original plantings.  You can see more on our video at the bottom of the post.
 We walked along the front of the property to the other end of the circular drive. I headed towards the house just a bit, and Matthew mentioned the bay window on the second floor was what little Edie referred to as the "eye to the world".   I was intrigued, and planned to watch both the documentary and the 2009 HBO movie when I got back home.  There has always been an interest on my part of who originally lived in these grand old homes.  When I purchased an 1881 shingle style victorian, I researched the owner and even visited her grave to see what more I could glean, and to pay my respects.  This elegant old house with its crazy story had taken me in it's hold, I had to find out more! 
On the corner down from Martha Stewart's home in East Hampton on Lily Pond Lane, 
is where you will find Grey Gardens, at 3 West End Road. 
 It holds the memories of a bittersweet life. 

Watch the short video of my recent trip to Grey Gardens with Matthew Mead.
(Click the arrow in the center to play)
Image HBO
 If you want to delve more into the story of Grey Gardens, check out the HBO Movie, starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. I thought it was terrific.  Then watch the documentary by the Maysles brothers.  It will be hard to watch the real life film.  If you are anything like me, 
you won't be able to sleep for a few nights after watching.  
Grey Gardens is now a slight obsession, and 
perhaps with this blog post, you may find it just as fascinating...
 if you haven't already heard the story of the Beales and their beloved Grey Gardens.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Road trip to Long Island and the Hamptons with Matthew Mead

Road Trip!!
matthew mead and amy chalmers on the road
Matthew Mead and I just returned from a three day road trip to Long Island, NY, where he was
doing two shoots for his upcoming magazine for the fall, Upstyled Home, Industrial.  He invited
me along for the adventure, and we decided to do some video shoots of our trip and the people
and places that were on our itinerary.  We also decided to do some LIVE video, on Facebook, for
the first time, which is a new feature on FB that has you showing what you are doing in real time.
(Note:  The Facebook Live videos can still be watched on our FB pages, 
however you can't interact with us, which is what makes
 the Live part of the video experience so fun! 
You will see us talking to the people on the other side of the screen, 
who are typing in comments during the road trip, as it is filmed in real time.)
When Matthew and I get together we often have conversations about his early career, that I find particularly fascinating.  And so one of our FB Live videos was centered on his first trip to the Hamptons and how he came to be in this circle of visionary designers. 
 Matthew describes it briefly:
matthew mead uptsyled home magazine images

Now it would be my first trip to his career beginning stomping grounds, and what made it all the more sweet, was the opportunity to be staying at the iconic home of designer Tricia Foley.
designer tricia foley white dining room

Tricia's well loved white farmhouse in Long Island has been captured in the pages of  magazines, catalogues, and books. Tricia's personal style of white interiors is well known, and above is a quick
pic I took of her dining room when we arrived at her home.
 Martha Stewart has used Tricia's home and out buildings to shoot,
as has Ralph Lauren and many other notables.  
Martha and Ralph.
martha stewart at her hamptons mansion
Image: Hamptons Magazine

Here is Martha in front of her "beach home" in East Hampton.
We would be doing a drive by and checking out her place on our last day in NY.
She looks amazing, doesn't she?  Would we get a chance to see her for ourselves?
Would she remember the day she invited Matthew to come here and meet with him?
That is one epic story that Matthew has shared on our Decorating Video channel.
Martha gave him a personal tour of this home!! 
Blows my mind when I think about that....anyway, we have a lot to share
 about our very fun trip. So look for a series of
posts with more from Long Island and the Hamptons!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Windowsill Flower Pots and Upstyled Cache Pots

Dressing up a kitchen window with some garden shop pansies is as easy as breaking apart
a six pack of these cute little johnny jump ups and plopping into little dishes.
The purple and yellow faces look so happy, and they are a harbinger of spring, which seems
to be holding off just a little bit longer.  So while I have planted some outdoors, these little
guys will bring cheer inside for the time being.
My colors are purple and green in the kitchen, and so I used purple transferware bowls
as little drain catches for the plants. 
So easy and adorable.  These are technically berry bowls, but of course
any small plate or bowl that can sit on the sill would work.
Purple touches run throughout the house.  On this hallway bench 
that straddles the kitchen and the dining room, I placed another
pot of pansies in a footed bowl, a gift from a blog friend, Mandi.
 Gilded accents and painted nasturtiums adorn
 this old cache pot with tiny fancy feet.  
Putting flowers in any type of bowl or decorative container is 
my idea of easy spring decorating. Look through your china cabinet 
and pull out that never used decorative piece from Aunt Gladys.
Then fill it with petunias, pansies, geraniums or the like for an instant
burst of spring and summer.  
"Upstyled" is the word for using things other than they may have been whether this pretty container held plants from long ago,
or it served food....there are many ways to use it, and today it 
holds an easy spring floral arrangement. 
Speaking of "upstyled", the new issue is finally on news stands!
Upstyled Home Outdoors, by my friend Matthew Mead, 
features my courtyard among other inspiring spaces.  
Treat yourself to a copy!  There are no advertisements, its 
all amazing original content.  You won't be disappointed!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Designing French Home Accessories and Magazine Secrets

 2017 has been an incredible year for me as far as magazine features goes!  It never gets old
to know that my home or yard is going to be inside a magazine, and never did I think I would 
get a cover.  Until the day that Fifi O'Neill came to do my house for Romantic Country Spring 2017 
issue and the photographer, Mark Lohman said to her, "This is going to be a cover try", as he
pointed to my living room and where he planned to take a photo.  Um...what??? I was standing
right there, but its like I wasn't standing right there while they did their business.  Any way, after
that comment, he mentioned another angle that could be a "cover try", and that is when I started 
thinking that getting my house on the cover would be very cool indeed.  And it happened!
I got an email from Fifi telling me they had picked my living room for the Spring cover.
Wow.  Just like that.  It takes months before it comes out in print (and sometimes longer),
and of course you just would never mention anything like that or you might JINX it and it
would likely be considered bad etiquette in the magazine world.  I would think.
My next two shoots were with Matthew Mead for different publications, one being his own
brand special edition magazines, published by Country Sampler, and it was all about Outdoor Style.
 Since we are good buddies now, I was able to see the process of the magazine cover decision,
and it was pretty darn interesting.  The publisher likes to have control over these things, and they 
picked many "possible" covers, including several of my shots.  Images get edited and re-edited and copy gets changed and colors of the titles and on and on.
OMG, could it happen again, with another cover shot?  
Yes, it did!! I had to keep it quiet for several months, which was not fun.
I was so proud of this shoot, and the way it all turned out, and I just hope this magazine gets the readers it deserves, because its packed with all kinds of outdoor spaces, including my awesome French Courtyard.  We love our courtyard!  If anyone is interested in getting a chance to win a free copy of this Upstyled Home Outdoors issue, leave a comment letting me know why you would like to get one, and you will be entered to win.  Make sure I have an email address so I can contact you for your mailing address, in case you win.  This magazine hits news stands April 25th, 2017.
 The other magazine that you may have noticed on the first photo, was Where Women Create.
This is a big honor, to be featured in this magazine, as artists of note and talent are interviewed
in their workshops and studios.  This issue will be out May 1st, and it is a biographical type article
on where I found my creativity and what nurtured my creative nature.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you ever wanted to know more about me, this is your chance, lol.  So one of the secretive parts of the magazine world, is that sometimes you get left on the cutting room floor.  And that just happened to me this week.  I was contacted by an editor of Country Home to possibly be included in their Style Makers section of the next issue, due in June 2017.  Wow.  This is really amazing! I wasn't sure what to make of all these features, but it was certainly thrilling to be considered a Style Maker.  And just like that, I got an email saying there wasn't enough room in the issue, and that I may be considered for one of their future issues. So POOF!  But hey, I am more than thrilled to be in the racks this year
in these great issues.    
The other bit of very cool news is that I was contacted to do some design work for a private company who is a wholesaler of romantic styled European clothing and who has decided to add some complementary home accessories to the line.  They wanted to know if I would give them some designs for French home decor.  So we struck a handshake of a deal, and my designs have been well received thus far.  Its funny because as a former owner of a little retail home boutique shop, I had a hard time finding things that I personally was attracted to, given my penchant for French style.  And now I get to CREATE French style items that will be made in factories and it couldn't be more exciting!  As things move along, I will be sharing more specifics, but for now we are fleshing out concepts and items to be included in the collection.
 One of my favorite things is to sketch. 
My design sketches are done in pencil with a bit of colored pencil 
added to give it some life, then emailed to the owner of the company for approval.
The feeling is an overall rustic and elegant European look.  
I will share the company and where you may be able to find these items
designed by moi as soon as they become available.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Tips for a beautiful Easter table, and the Pink Linen arrives

My Easter table is always a fun one for me, as I have lots of pastels
in my decor, which just goes with this holiday.  I wanted to share a few
 of my easy tips to creating a special looking table for your guests.
 Easy is the way to go, in my book, and this couldn't have been easier.
I used two colors for the setting, purple and blue.  The purple from my 
transferware dishes and the blue from my wine glasses.  Pick one or two
colors from your china cabinet and set the table on a white cloth.
Then take a soup tureen or a cache pot (decorative flower container) and
add pansies still in their six packs from the garden store in a color that goes
with your dishes or glassware.  Simply cut apart the six pack with kitchen scissors and
 place as many of the plastic encased pansies as you can.  Above you can see
some of the containers are empty, and that is because I used some outside in containers.
I bought enough to use for indoors and after Easter I will put them all outside.
A majolica pedestal bowl that matches my blue opaline stemware would be perfect
for the centerpiece, but many other types of bowl and pots could work as well.
 I found it antiquing for about $12 and I LOVE it!!
 Add some Easter grass from the supermarket as a cushion and filler in the bottom of the 
container.   It makes an instant Easter centerpiece and is very charming.  
Imagine this in a white bowl or soup tureen, choosing pansy colors that work
 with your tableware.  Then to make it a little more fun, 
I added little candy cups around the flower bowl.
 These little paper cups come in all kinds of colors and patterns.  
I found them at HomeGoods and they are so adorable and festive.
 Candies from packages or plastic tubs from the grocery store were used to fill the tiny cups. The blue striped cups looked best, and I will save the pink cups for an upcoming baby shower. These cup packages sell for $2 to $4, and they add a festive note.  You could fill them with pudding or mousse or tiramisu for a desert course at the end of the meal.
 Tiny golden bunnies bring to mind the tradition of Easter chocolate rabbits 
as the most popular thing a child would want to find in the Easter basket. 
 Use what you have, and build a table around your colors. 
 If you have darker colors, then perhaps adding a pink or pastel colored napkin
 on top of the plate will give you a nice result.
Many of you know I am an active collector of purple transferware.  
 One thing I had yet to find was egg cups in purple.  I finally found a pair, and so they 
will make their debut on the table holding Lindt chocolate carrot sticks.
 The table is all set, which leaves me to focus on the cooking part. 
 See something in the mirror?  The bolt of pink fabric....
Yup, its the pink linen I ordered online, and it soon will be made into
draperies for the dining room.  Its a beautiful soft pink, and it will 
be curtains for the spring and summer months.  So fun!
 Sunshine is prevailing this Easter Sunday, and so are warm temps!! 
We will be out in the courtyard for sure!
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter!

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