Monday, April 20, 2015

Decoupaged Furniture with Cocktail Napkins

Looking for a new way to create a personality piece?
I usually grab Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan and get started
transforming my furniture with paint.  But lets say you wanted
something whimsical and completely different....
enter Annie Sloan's Decoupage Medium and a few packages
of tissue cocktail napkins and several hours later the result was stunning.
 Pretty chair loaded with personality courtesy of the cocktail napkins
that was attached in an overlapping manner using the decoupage medium.
 I bought a set of 6 ribbon back cherry dining room chairs. After
recovering the seats of the armchairs in a toile, I sold them as a set.  
I still had four more left, so I decided to create another pair of 
occasional chairs with the decoupage.
 Created in the shop with my right hand shop gal, Julia, we used
4 different patterns of cocktail napkins.  We separated the tissue
as it is 4 ply paper, and only used the top layer that had the print.
 Then we ripped the napkins into strips and sections and stuck them on
 with the glue like Annie Sloan Decoupage.  
Using a 1" chip brush I applied the medium as each strip was put on, 
and quickly added one after another, ripping the paper into shapes
 that suited the contour of the chair. One more coat over the entire thing
seals the paper onto the chair.  Annie's Decoupage is furniture grade
so its more durable than craft shop decoupage mediums. 
 They came out fantastic and are such a fun and fast way to make any chair, 
dresser, mirror, lamp, headboard (you get the idea)  look special.
Create a fun chair for your kitchen desk, bathroom dressing table, kid's room
 or create a pair as an adorable sitting spot for two in the family room.
 From head to toe this chair is covered with print. 
 Imagine the possibilities with all of the choices you have in napkin patterns. 
 Great patterns are available at HomeGoods, so use just one print or find two, 
three or four that work well together to create the look you want in just the right style.
 Our boho-chic chairs got new chair coverings in Annie Sloan's Gigi Ticking Stripe,
just one of her fabrics from her European Fabric Collection, all made in France
 or Belgium, they are available through your local Annie Sloan Stockist.
How's that for a bright idea?
 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's a Wrap: Goodbye to my shop Maison Decor

I will be closing Maison Decor, 150 Main Street, Reading Massachusetts.
Our last day will come at the end of this month, April 2015.
I want to thank all of my customers for their patronage, as small
businesses depend on shoppers like you.  I have two more workshops
left in my last month, and am looking forward to finishing up
with two more groups of Maison Decor Chalk Paint® graduates.
At this point in my life, I have decided to step back and get out of
retail to pursue other creative pursuits as well as spend more
time with my family at home, something I have missed very much.
This post is a recap of my last three years as a shopkeeper.
Almost three years ago to the day, I opened my first shop.
I named it after my blog, Maison Decor.  After 
meeting Annie Sloan, the Chalk Paint® inventor and artist,
on an impulse and invitation from Annie herself that day,
("we'd love it if you would do it")
I signed the first lease of what would be four stores in three years.
Amy and Annie, in Boston, April 2012.
Annie scribbled her bubbly font on a book for me that day.
She appreciated my role as a blogger who spread the word about her paint.
Now I would become her stockist and so the adventure began.
I was in love with my first little shop in Malden Massachusetts.
I couldn't wait to get to the shop to paint furniture and sell paint.
Life changed very quickly and soon this is where I would 
spending most of my days.  Business grew, and opportunities presented themselves.
Next up was a shop in Boston with my son Justin Power at the helm.
My youngest son, Colin helped us out on weekends while he finished his 
college degree.  I couldn't have done it without him.  
Now I had two sons on board and our little family business started to hum.  
It was a fun and exciting period for us all.
Maison Decor Boston was a mix of my love of French decor
and Justin's preference towards the Rustic style.
 We learned about running a retail business the
hard way, but perhaps the best way~jumping in and doing it. Baptism by fire
I think they call this method.  But we were determined and dedicated. 
In one year we learned a lot. About the demographics and locations 
we had chosen for our stores.  Both would need to be changed.
A new store in Reading Massachusetts was next in line.
I indulged my love of French country style. 
I continued doing what I loved the most, which
was teaching my workshops about how to use 
this amazing Chalk Paint that I loved so much.
 My old workshop space in the Malden shop was filled with light
from the big front windows and would always hold a special spot in my heart.
This was where I taught my first ever Chalk Paint workshop! 
 Over the next three years I would teach hundreds of interested students, 
many who would become regulars at my shop, some became friends and some would even 
go on to become Annie Sloan Stockists themselves, inspired by my workshop!
I loved teaching, and look forward to the last two workshops I have left.
I have taught classes on color mixing, advanced techniques,
stenciling and transfers, metallics and more.  I will share more
than I have been able to in the past on my blog, so if you are interested
in learning, subscribe to my blog by entering your email address in 
the box on the sidebar of the blog.
Annie inscribed her latest book with the inside knowledge, as I had
told her I would be leaving when my lease expired.  I loved her paint,
I just didn't want to sell it anymore.  I realized over time, that having
the shop required me to be there, and that was a huge requirement.
Over time it had stifled my creative side, putting limitations on 
what I was able to do.  I missed decorating my home, making dinners
without being in a rush to get the food on the table after working all day.
My garden was a neglected pile of weeds, where once it was a source 
of pride and fulfillment.  My dogs spent their days alone and I know
they missed me and it was a big adjustment for them to wait to see
us at the end of a long day.  They are people loving pets.
Family vacations were scheduled around my shop duties.
Shopkeeper was proving to be too big of a sacrifice for me.
On the other side of the coin, is my son Justin.
I am so proud of how well Justin is doing with his Boston shop, 
and it was the last of the four shops we opened last summer. 
 It was his turn to take complete control and have his creative vision fulfilled.
Pioneer Goods Co at 764 Tremont Street will 
continue to offer Chalk Paint® to those in the Boston area as well
as his fabulous selection of goods.
Justin has created a remarkable home decor shop with a curated
Rustic Americana style that is garnering plenty of media attention.
We will continue to sell the Maison Decor Mora Clocks too.
I started selling them without benefit of a retail store five years ago.
If you are interested in ordering or learning more about our reproduction moras,
click here on Mora Clocks, or at the top of the blog header for information.
Thank you to my family for being right there with me every step
of the way. I am super excited to take advantage of some
creative pursuits that are ahead of me, and to spend time 
in our family home enjoying these guys, my hubby and dogs
and hopefully some grandkids one day. :-)
Thank you for reading my blog, I will be putting it back in action
more than ever once I get into my new mode.
 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A magical night at Maison Decor: The Matthew Mead Party

Parties are for celebrating.  Celebrating those best times and milestones of life.  
 Not just for weddings and graduations and christenings and birthdays,
 but for those unique and special moments in life that feel incredibly big.
This was one of those moments.
Last winter I was asked by Matthew Mead to have my home
featured in one of his upcoming issues about decorating! 
Oh would I ever like to be in his magazine!  They are works of art, incredibly shot and styled.
And so we met and he photographed my home.  After all was said and done
the waiting game began for the issue to come out in print.  I was not alone on this journey, there
were other women who were on this same exciting ride.  
We  had all been handed our first class tickets by the conductor
himself, Matthew.  He was at the head of the train as we took our seats.
Our train was finally pulling into the station!  This was such an exciting ride! All of us
would be bound together in print and emotion.  I wanted to 
celebrate it all, and make sure our conductor understood just how marvelous he was, and 
how wonderful this experience had been. I prepared the invitations and started making
a few party decorations around my shop, which would be
 the site of the Magazine Launch Party.  My entry way wall would become a Wall of Fame,
or a testimonial to all those who were featured, as well as to Matthew's stunning photography.
The party was about to begin~it would start as soon as my shop closed on Saturday 
afternoon.  Julia, my shop assistant and I had worked the past two weeks transforming it into a festive space by hanging chandelier crystals from small christmas lights strung from the ceiling. 
My fellow Stockist Janet Metzger, from The Empty Nest, arrived from Virgina
 to attend the party.  She is the gal I went to France with last October.
We were ready to get this party started! The weather turned lovely as if on cue
and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfect for a party.
 My cash out station was transformed into a bar, filled with ice and drinks.  The music 
was set to Pandora party mode and one by one the women featured in Matthew's magazines strolled through the door.
Ellen McHale and her hubby Bill arrived with smiles and hugs.
I got behind the bar to pour some wine and was captured by Matthew.
Can this guy take a good photo or what?  I never looked so good!
A guest book was set by the front door 
with pretty purple tulips on one of my favorite antique iron console tables.
I brought all my amethyst glass vases to the shop for the occasion.
 Janet and I made appetizers and deserts for the party. Matthew captured them beautifully.
 Matthew is also a helluva cook.  He made this delicious spicy shrimp appetizer.

We were getting assembled, almost all had arrived.
LtoR: Ellen McHale, Matthew Mead, Amy Chalmers, 
Sandra Cavallo, Danielle Driscoll, Cary Goodrich.
We were still waiting on Michelle Graham and Elyse Major.
The white wine was flowing as were the smiles.  Husbands watched as their
wives were in the spotlight, it was our night with Matthew! 
 Elyse Major arrived and posed with Jenny Mead under the twinkling strands of crystal lights.
 I surprised Matthew by suggesting we give him gifts as momentos of our special bond.
During his photo shoot visit at my home we had a discussion about love.  I was talking about
the languages of love of which there are five.  Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch.  How do you feel love?  We discussed it, and he said he found Receiving Gifts to be his language of love.  So that is how the gift giving part of the party came to be.
One by one he opened his gifts. You could tell how touched he was by the unique and thoughtful gifts he was given. I gave him one of my two blue opaline bird figurines.  He told me he had never seen anything like them before when he was at my house.  To me they are beautiful symbols of birds of a feather flocking together, and capable of soaring to new heights.  His gifts were really awe inspiring.  Sitting together in this room of creatives, the night just got better and better.
 There was a buzz about the place, photos were being taken at a frenzy pace.  Chatter and laughter filled the air. Strangers now connected by this one man. The feeling in the shop was like a  25 year High School reunion, and we were members of the same clique, finally getting to embrace and reunite. It really was quite amazing how connected we all were.  Next up was the testimonials.
I was the MC and Matthew the guest of honor.  All of spoke one by one about our personal experiences with the amazing Mr. Mead.  It was part love story, part roast...incredibly poignant and funny at times.  Matthew revealed that he had never had a party to celebrate his work before.  Wow.
After we all spoke it was his turn. I copied a quote from his Facebook page below.

"Last night was like the Oscars for me. All the magazine feature stories, the homeowners and friends all came together for an amazing evening hosted by Amy Chalmers at her shop Masion Decor. This is the first time in all the years that Jennifer Mead and I have had the opportunity to truly celebrate with the people that help make the magic happen. I was overwhelmed with the kindness and friendship... but deeply, deeply moved by the words, accolades and creativity of everyone. I was the common thread between us all at the party but the group was bound by so much more talent, style and creativity. There were meaningful gifts, speeches, admiration and I just can't even express all of my grateful, grateful thoughts and feelings for all: Danielle Driscoll, Ellen McHale, Cary Pryser Goodrich, Sandra Von Hagen Cavallo, Michelle Beaulieu Graham, Amy Chalmers, Jennifer Mead, Elyse Press Major. I will never forget this night... will be carried by its joy and inspiration for years to come and am grateful for this community of support and friendship. Thank you Amy Chalmers for making dreams come true. xo xo x"
 It was a warm and fuzzy night and so well deserved for our "conductor".  
 Then it was time for a group photo...easier said then done! 
I love the out hilarious.
 We all had the greatest time.  
I photo bombed Ellen trying to steal Matthew for a private shot.
Looks like I ruined a great shot, sorry Ellen! lol
These pages would now hold more meaning for me than ever before.
The party was winding down, and suddenly it was over. 
 Everyone had left the station.
It was a beautiful night. 
 The essence of everyone's love and laughter still hung in the air.
 The chalkboard sign was pulled in and tucked away.
What fun we all had celebrating this moment in time.
I am so honored and happy to be part of this little club.
When things feel this right, its good to savor and celebrate.
Glad to have been able to share this night of magic with you,
my readers of Maison Decor.  Lets keep getting on good train rides,
shall we, and have magical adventures together. 

Note: Photos by Matthew Mead, Ellen McHale, Elyse Major, Janet Metzger, Julia Sullivan, Amy Chalmers.

 photo signature_zpsxi5q1w6r.png