Friday, June 26, 2015

Creating Summer Style using Neutrals with Blue and White, a Newport Photoshoot

 "Neutrals plus one" is just about as foolproof as you can get when looking for a color
scheme in decorating.  Last week I had an installation in Newport, Rhode Island,
followed by a photo shoot with Matthew Mead.  This location is a large town house
owned by Efex's Lydia Langston.  ( Note: Efex is the latex applique brand that you may have
seen me using on different projects, like my own living room mantel, which you can read about on the sidebar under Project Gallery.)  Lydia asked me to decorate her place, and being in Newport, the color palette I wanted to use would be classic seaside with blue and white.
However  it would be subtle and soft and not cliche.  Take a look at some of the spaces,
like this guest bedroom which had loads of white and beige with hints of Duck Egg blue ( a 
pretty oceanic green/blue).  Through out the house there is a mix of grey and tan with a white backdrop and then bits of blue were added for classic summery style.
We started off with having all the walls painted from a yellow to white. Lydia had the basics for 
upholstered seating in khaki and white pieces.  So with the basics in place, my "neutrals plus one" stage was set.  All I needed was some blue and white accessories from HomeGoods.
 It doesn't take me long to fill up a shopping cart or two...
 Linens for the dining table, pillows, cute paper cocktail napkins and a really cute capiz shell tray in blue and white which I planned to use on the coffee table were selected.  I found some silver rocks and added them to my cart~I wanted to add them around the pillar candles for the large hurricanes on the mantel.
 These would flank the big trumeau mirror that we made, and that dead space underneath the jumbo pillar candle would get a base of small silver stones. 
 A large Italian glass vase in a watery color mix of blues and greens caught my eye.  I wasn't sure where it would go, but it "felt right".  So when you are out shopping for your accessories, buy things that you like.  You don't need to know where it will go, as I find most things that I love always end up being featured somewhere to great decorative effect.  You can always return it, so that makes the buying part easy and fun.  No worries, throw it in your cart and see if you can use it.
 On an earlier trip to HomeGoods I did a pillow run.  Here you can see some of the pillows placed on the neutral furnishings.  Subtract the pillows and what do you have?  A completely neutral space in white, grey and tan.  Add one color and you have instant style! In our case it was the color blue, in all its wonderful shades from light to dark. You can also see the large mirror we created and hung 
with pieces of tape to hold the mirror in position as I had just applied the adhesive. We had just hung it up and would have to wait til the day of the photo shoot to see it in all its glory, sans tape.
There will be a dedicated post later on how to create a fabulous Trumeau mirror
like the one created here.  It was pretty amazing to make such a thing of beauty.
Back to the decorating part...adding flowers in pretty containers and filler accents like this gold box in a sea urchin motif would be the important things that create the style factor.
Bookcase shelves were filled with a bits of blue and white by using pottery on the shelves, 
and any of Lydia's books that had blue, white or tan bindings.    
Matthew and I had a great time styling and working this shoot together.  I always learn a little bit more just by watching him make changes or suggestions.  We were laughing about the wine glass, which was a prop in almost every shot.  Of course I might have stolen a sip or two each time I moved the glass.  The guy is laid back and filled with a quiet genius.  You have to pay attention to him or you can miss these moments.  
As the stylist/decorator on the job, I moved about the room adding and subtracting, switching things up.  The coffee cup had to go...Matthew said it read "too white" in the shot. 
 Adjustments like this would dictate the final result in the photos. 
 We spent the entire day shooting the house.  
I will share the beauty shots next time, when Matthew sends me his beautiful images.
 Julia, my old shop manager (now dubbed my styling assistant as she learns more of what it takes to style and decorate spaces) watched Matthew close in on the water glasses.  
I guess we all are learning, haha, like this moment when Matthew quietly told us we were all standing in the reflection of a mirror he was trying to shoot.  So we all crammed in next to him and began giggling.  It was really fun, sometimes silly but plenty of work had to be done. 
It was a day of dogs, dogs and more dogs.  Lydia had two black labs and was babysitting a terrier. Often times we had to stop to take their photos because they were just so terrific. Decoy, a cancer survivor is 14 years old and is the biggest lab I had ever seen!  A gentle giant with a great disposition I fell in love. 
And then there was little Winston.  He followed us from room to room, never further away than a couple of feet.  He won our hearts with his perseverance on being included in whatever we were doing (we were dog sitting him as his owners were off on an excursion). 
Overhead birds eye view shows Julia stepping out of the camera range, but not Winston.  We would have to coax him out of the shot almost every time!  What a camera hog. He finally got his beauty shot when we set him up on the bed.  What a star!
 Look at him thinking "Don't you guys know how much better this bed shot 
would be if you had ME sitting up on top??"
"Well finally people!!  See how great I look?" He cracks me up!
Then he laid down and really went for it!  We all let out a collective gasp. 
Winston was so damn impressive.  He was working it like he was a professional dog model! 
 His owners have no idea they could be cashing on him.
This was the shot of the bed in the guest room.  
This room had the most beautiful light, and the soft colors were really my style. 
 Not as seacoast as upstairs, but certainly a summery feel with a splash of Paris mixed in. 
 Perhaps thats why it was my fav~a French twist on coast resort style.
The bedside table was simply done with books and flowers and a few filler pieces
 like a seashell and jewelry.  And there was that prop! My wine glass...
it was time to take it upstairs and outside for our dinner on the deck. 
 The Newport shoot was a wrap.  
 We dined alfresco with our furry friends at our feet. 
Matthew Mead, Julia Sullivan, Lydia Langston and me~bidding you adieu for now.
I will be back with Matthew's pretty shots so you can see how spectacular
 it came out through the eye of his lens.  
(Where was hair and makeup? I could have used a bit. )

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Note: This post is partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their designer Pinterest Board, Happy By Design.  Check it out for tips and tricks and pin the tips you want to save for future reference on your own style boards.  Its a great way to collect your inspiration and ideas for current or future projects. 


  1. Oh gosh, everything looks amazing! I'm in love with that huge lantern placed on the floor beside the wicker chair too. I can tell you are having a lot of fun. Who wouldn't?! That little dog was adorable trying to get in on the shot too.

  2. Looks like a fun and talented group!

  3. What a fun group of people! The home looks fabulous. Wonderful job. Can't wait to see Matthew's shots too!


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