Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beating the winter blues at home and in the shop

Oh my. 
So tired of the huge snowbanks and cold weather
and all that comes with it....
that is my yard and you can see the tips of my blue metal
chairs finally starting to reappear.  There is no passage
back to that area of the yard at this present time.
Dillon surveys the snowy scene from our front steps.
This snow cannot melt fast enough for both of us!
To escape the winter chill I have been using 
fresh flowers and pretty fabrics
and cheerful colors around the house.  I am not a tablecloth kind of girl
but I found this pretty French Provencal style cloth in great colors at 
HomeGoods and I am so glad I bought it.  Its cheerful and saucy and 
adds a happiness to the room.  The flowers are leftover 
from the photo shoot last week.  They really have been a saving grace 
and I plan to keep on buying more until spring!
 I have also been buying decorating and gardening magazines
to take quicky mental vacations imaging the things I will do when 
spring and summer finally arrive. Its been the longest winter ever, it feels like.
The snowdrifts and snowfall have taken their toll on our sales at the shop.
Its tough being a shop keeper and its even tougher when you have poor
weather which keeps our shoppers at bay. When its zero degrees and the wind
is blowing, who wants to leave the house?
At least our Reading store has a private parking lot so you can find a spot.
But our Boston shop is on street parking and the sidewalks have not
been cleared until recently. Look at the snow banks in the photo below.
This sidewalk chalkboard made by our fellow Boston shopkeeper, 
Olives and Grace, made me smile.
Truly our universe is made up of us, and the choices we make....
the way things are going  (if we don't support our own town and city shops)
we will be a world of big box stores and online shopping only.
Our grandchildren will ask us to tell the stories of the "old days"
when there were little shops and neighborhood enclaves
made up of one unique shop after another.  Even the malls will
have a hard time staying in business. 
 Amazon and Walmart will soon rule the world it appears.
So make a difference and pop into a little shop you may have
noticed in your town but haven't stopped at yet.
Look what another small business person has succeeded in doing!
He has gotten his own magazine published and its out on new stands now.
So run....don't walk! 
Buy it!
 Help another small business succeed by
purchasing his magazine.  Small businesses are people. 
People who have to pay bills and buy food and heat their homes.
Small businesses pay other people to work at their small businesses.
Small businesses pay taxes and work really hard.
Buying magazines and cans of paint and vintage decorative items do make a difference.
It really does help.  
Anyway, Matthew Meads magazine is a thick publication.
Its loaded with content, not ads.  I hate how many ads are in 
magazines these days, but I guess its hard to get them published without
the revenue from the advertisers.  At any rate, this is one great magazine
created by one amazing guy.  And next month my home will be featured
so that makes it even more exciting!! 
 I headed out to Barnes and Noble to see if I could find it...
and I was just about to leave when I thought maybe I should 
check the other areas to see if it was put on the wrong rack.  
And sure enough I spotted it hiding behind some travel magazines
 that were also miscast in the Games/Humor section. Huh? 
 How is anyone supposed to find this magazine to buy it?  
So I helped out by moving it over to the Home and Garden section.
So there you go~if you are looking for this in your 
Barnes and Noble or Publix 
make sure you hunt around, because it could be hiding...
and what a shame it would be for both you and Matthew if you missed it.
I am hoping to have it in my Reading store and my online shop soon,
as I fear it will run out and many will still be looking for it. 
I will post when it arrives in case you have been looking for it unsuccessfully.
On a last note, I am excited to say I am getting somewhere on the blog
redesign with a brand new look.  Hope to unveil in a week or two...

Until then, have a good one!

Read more »

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Happy by Design Boho-chic Makeover

How about this fun transformation?
I think it might be one of my most favorites ever!
This was a sitting room in a condo that needed 
some personality and functionality.
My design assistant Gina and I headed out to make it happen.
Check it out~its pretty awesome.
 The basics were great~ sofa, chair and wall color that 
were all neutral.  All I need to do was to find a unit that could 
serve our homeowner a little bit better as a bill paying center and 
hold her printer and daily bills and mail.  The small dark wood console
she had did not cut it.  Everything about this room was just a bit boring.
That was about to change, as I planned to make it inviting and cozy~
just like a sitting room should be!
It is now a Boho styled sitting room with the most charming personality!
The inspiration point of the space started with the homeowners collection
of mismatched artwork that she had gathered over the years.
When you have a bunch of artwork think "Gallery Wall"!
Start in the center and work out from there. 
Fun Bohemian pillows from HomeGoods tied all the colors of the art
together.  A long low console with baskets was ideal for all the mails
and paperwork as well as a nice place to set up a pair of pretty lamps.
 The centerpiece of this wall was this enormous tin tile medallion.
Its a show stopper, yet doesn't compete with the gallery wall of art.
This chic velvet tufted ottoman was the perfect choice for a 
coffee table.  A simple tray set on top will hold drinks
or snacks.  The soft aqua color was perfect with our 
homeowners carpet.  It was petite enough to fit in the room
and without it the room would not have felt finished.
A fun flower dish was used for a place to corral eyeglasses,
and repeat the Boho theme.
 A rustic pedestal table holds a vintage blue phone and 
a HomeGoods faux floral adds the perfect pop of color! 
The lesson here is, don't be afraid to mix it up!  
This is the happiest and hippest sitting room ever!
Pull together your odd ball collection of artwork
then weave it all together with the magic of HomeGoods amazing
assortment of accessories and home furnishings.

Read more »

Monday, February 23, 2015

New blog design

My blog is going to be getting a makeover.
You may have noticed some things were a bit wonky
and since its been about two years, its time for an update.
I will be working with a new blog designer today.
What that means is picking out fonts, layouts and 
colors that will become part of the everyday appearance
for my blog.  I have a vague idea of what I want and part
of the process for me, is to let it happen and don't get locked
into anything specific.  Just follow where the road will take me,
you know what I mean? 
 Its Monday and a good day to get started on this project.
Its also freezing cold here in Boston and the temps are going
to plunge 40 degrees in the next 24 hours. So fun, right!?
This winter is taking its toll, so doing makeovers on my home,
my sister's home and now my blog are my way of coping.
I will let you know how I am making out, and I might even ask
your opinion on layouts or design elements if I can't make up my mind.
 Most people do not like change, so I hope this 
new design will be something you all will embrace.  
Hope you have a great week ahead of you.  I will be doing
a HomeGoods redesign tomorrow for a client near my shop
and will be back to share her before and afters.
Read more »

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oh what a week it was! Matthew Mead shoots my home!

Oh what a week it was.  If you have been following along here you 
know Matthew Mead invited me to be included in one of his magazine issues.
He has four special editions coming out, and I will be in one about decorating.
More on that at the end of the post.
I mostly want to share how wonderful it was for me personally
to experience this with Matthew.  Its been almost three years since
I decided to open a store and sell Annie Sloan's incredible Chalk Paint®.
And since that time, my home has taken a back seat.
The love of decorating and creating our home is no longer
on the front burner, and its been a great loss for me.
When Matthew asked, I was delighted and scared to death because
I knew I would have to tackle many things in a short period of time.
Speed decorating!! So here is just a snippet of how my home looks 
today, and how much I adored getting it whipped into shape and 
then giving it over to the skilled and brilliant Lifestyle guru
Matthew Mead.  This guy with a camera is beyond compare.
So while my photographs capture the basics, his will make the spaces
look magical.  Trust me, I have seen a preview and its beyond 
gorgeous! I am on a cloud right now so without further ramblings
here are some of the spaces he photographed for the magazine.
Just realize that these images are taken with my pedestrian hands.
 The painted piano was a great focal point of many photographs.
Who knew a white piano was such a scene stealer?
 Like me, Matthew was captivated by my blue opaline chandelier.
 Sylvia was the only dog that was allowed to stay for the shoot.
She was a charming addition and would only bark when Matthew's
ring tone went off on his phone.  It was pretty funny~she did not like it.
He took pics of my tiny entry area.
The colors of the living room repeat in the old glass
bottles and the toss pillow I made out of a blue and green toile.
 Our bedroom was photographed too. 
Its got a new layout and we just LOVE how it 
feels now with the bed on the diagonal.  
All because of the photo shoot!  These things
are the perks now that they are finished.  Forced me to get 
things feeling and looking right instead of just ignoring them.  
A window seat in the master bedroom got a little spiffing 
up too with pillows and more from HomeGoods.  I made the chintz pillow 
out of some vintage Maria Buatta chintz draperies.  
The round embroidered pillow and the burlap linen style pillows 
are from HomeGoods, the best place to find the pillows 
you need for a quick makeover. 
 Then came my Frenchy bathroom. 
 This bathroom was the last project I was working on when I crossed
 paths with Annie Sloan and decided to open a shop (or two or three).  
So this project came to a screeching halt and time has stood still here and 
I think I have never shown it off since that time I began the bathroom in 2011.  
Its a bit theatrical and shows off my love for French style and I conjured
 this room up in the most Marie Antoinette kind of way.  
Its a private space and I think those are the spaces where you can have 
the most fun in your home decor.  The closet doors were standard builder doors
 that I embellished with stock moldings from Lowes.  If only I had 
access to my stock of Efex appliques that are so much more refined.  
But that was then and this is now, and I still think it is beautiful. 
 The Louis chair is a project that awaits, but looks grand in its 
stripped down form. And how about that shimmery beaded pink slinky dress? 
 Can you believe that was my mother's dress that was handmade for
 her while we lived in Thailand?  It was the swinging sixties and 
mom wore a size 6 and rocked that dress!  It looks amazing on a hanger 
and is the perfect accent for my fantasy bathroom.  Pull out your prettiest dress 
and hang it up in your bathroom just because.  
Its an artful and personal expression of style.
 My dressing table was also a project back in 2011 when 
I had a marble remnant cut to fit the dormer alcove.  
What girl doesn't want a dedicated space to get her pretty on? 
 My kitchen got a few shots, but the lighting
 is the bleakest in this space. 
 I had the big urn styled with some faux green hydrangeas. Matthew 
suggested piling my green apples inside of it~which I loved.  
This is the shot of the urn holding the fake flowers.  MM much
prefers real to fake.  I do too but will use these for periods of time
when I am busy and have nothing fresh.  But the fruit was brilliant!
I got more than a few fresh options at Trader Joes the day before the shoot.
I love how they make the house feel more lovely.
  Its true, fresh is best. It can transform a room. 
Although my kitchen is small, its cheerful due in large
part to the zingy green accent color.  I found the perfect accent
rug in green and white at HomeGoods as well as a 
darling pocket watch clock that I hung by the kitchen window.  
 Matthew spent a lot of time shooting my dining room.  I almost
forgot about my wallpapered china cabinet.  He LOVED it!
He pulled a few things out of it, did a little impromptu arranging
and then snapped several photos.  I loved watching him pick what
appealed to his eye and was pleased when he would pick something
out that was special to me, in this case it was a little china figurine that 
came from my paternal grandmother.  One of the few things I have 
from her.  So this is a quickie post as now I plan to post on the different
rooms in more detail and show him shooting as well as how different
some of the spaces in my home are now.  
At the end of the day I caught both of us as I captured him
doing his thing.  This man is brilliant with a camera and has
an eye that is simply amazing.  I feel so happy our paths have crossed
and feel it is the first of many times we will meet again.
We got along swimmingly and I feel incredibly happy.
I hope April hurries up and gets here, cause that is when
MATTHEW MEAD DECORATES  will be released!
His magazine Upcycled Style will be out March 3 at your local
Barnes and Noble, Walmart and CVS...I will be doing a giveaway
on the blog for it as well. Matthew brought me a copy of it, hot
off the press and it is BEYOND gorgeous! Thick glossy pages
with hardly any ads...its all content on lovely homes, beautiful ideas 
one can use to upcycle things in their everyday life and so much more.
This photo collage is a sneak peek of what you will be seeing in DECORATING.
I think you are gonna love it!

Read more »

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines, Another Blizzard, a Stencil Workshop and Family

 Happy Valentines Day! This is one of my favorite holidays.  
I love being in love and expressing my love to my sons and 
my hubby and even though I will admit to you (shhhhh)
 that I didn't buy hub's card until this morning (day of) 
I think of it as a day to try to be especially romantic and loving.
My birthday is the day after Valentines so its usually a 
double whammy of flowers and cards and sometimes dinners out 
and gifts, so it brightens up this winter month quite a bit. 
 My birthday gift is a new pair of boots!  Floral and girly, 
these Doc Martens arrived yesterday and today they are on my feet! 
 I wore them out to get hubs a card at the supermarket while 
I picked up blizzard supplies (yes its happening again). 
 They are so comfy and cute! 
 I was tagged on instagram to take a "selfie" and 
post under #20beautifulwomen by a lovely lady who shops at my store
 and is quite stylish and beautiful.  Instagram is a thing you do with your phone, 
you take pics and upload them under your account and its
 a visual sharing communication platform that I have been enjoying quite a bit. 
Its quick and easy, so these days that works for me.  
At any rate, when I clicked over to see who is on the #20beautifulwomen page, 
its mostly young women...really YOUNG women. 
 Now it was my turn to tag beautiful women I know, 
and I tagged a few beauties that have the "experience and wisdom" in their corner. 
 Beauty is not only for the young.  Getting older and aging gracefully
 is upon me in full force, and with my birthday tomorrow, 
I am embracing my age more than ever. Or trying to.  
Its hard to love wrinkles and sagging, but its wonderful to be 
healthy and alive and in love.  So if you are in my age bracket give or take, 
embrace your beauty, your lovely inner beauty, your confidence, 
your wisdom and all that you have gained through your many years thus far. 
 Lets gang up and make it AWESOME to be older and
 beautiful, wrinkles and greys and those few extra pounds! 
And if you have youth on your side, be kind to yourself.  I know you will
wish you had that figure you find hard to love right now.
 Yesterday I hosted a Creative Stenciling workshop at Maison Decor. 
 It was more about being creative than just plain stenciling.  
Thinking outside the norm and taking a stencil, or two 
or three and layering them to create beautiful treatments 
for walls or even furniture.  
 Cupcakes were just because.  
 They look pretty sitting on our wall boards don't they?
 The thing I learned from Annie Sloan three years ago, 
was to use a foam roller to do stenciling.  And the other thing Annie taught
me was to use two colors at the same time in the paint tray.  
Side by side put a blob of one color and right next to it add another blob. 
Then run your roller through it and stencil so you get two colors 
showing at once in a very muted and lovely fashion.
This was Graphite with Paris Grey. See how it fades in and out? 
There are highlights of metallic but you can just use the two colors
 and then finish by layering even more with dry brushing over the entire thing.
This was done with Scandinavian Pink and Coco. 
Finished with a dry brush and wash.  In other words, 
layer your pieces....and get these lovely finishes.
 We practiced on brown paper first to get a feel for the "touch" 
and to learn not to have too much paint on our roller or 
it will seep through and look blobby. UGH. Don't do that! 
You can always add more, but its hard to take it away...
 This is a finished board using two stencils and three colors. 
Paris Grey base was sponged with a wool sea sponge, 
then trellis was added with Old White, then Emile was added 
over that using a lacy floral leaf stencil.  So pretty!
 This large acanthus was not layered but was put 
over a ragged base then rolled with two colors and 
dry brushed to finish it off.  
A bit of Pearl Plaster was used in the stencil as well for glimmer. 
 This stenciled treatment was done using our Croc stencil over Country Grey. 
We did the Croc using French Linen and Old White and the colors blended 
naturally as they were put on one roller.  We do LOVE our Croc stencil!
 After our fun workshop, look what arrived.  
My paint order, and it was terribly busted up. UGH. 
It came at the very end of the day, and I was really ready to go home. 
Friday night and all that...and now the paint would keep me late in the shop. 
I had about 8 cases of slammed and broken paint.  
I am thinking the delivery guys have had it with our freezing cold weather 
and snow banks and they took it out on our paint.  
Just part of the business that I hate....this stuff. 
The workshops I  love, the claims and damages are the worst.
 Boston has been all over the news as Mother Nature 
has been giving us more than our fair share of snow this month.  
Its been over 6 feet in two weeks and tonight another foot 
is headed straight for us. Again.  And it is in the single digits too!!! 
OMG its simply been brutal.  
 My mother in laws house right next doors has a 
leak in her living room due to ice damns.  
So that meant the roof needed to be shoveled off....
Here is a pic through the screen window of my kitchen watching 
the guys  try to get the snow off and then bust up the ice dams. 
 Finally hubby filled panty hose with Calcium Chloride and
 knotted it into long tubes and threw it up on her roof
 to create escape dams for the water to release.  This stuff is not for the faint of heart.  
So all of my readers (and you mom and dad) who are living in Florida and Texas 
just know that you ain't missing out on anything good right now.
Taking our dogs out has been especially fun....NOT.

Our shop in Reading Mass (*now closed)

 Justin's shop in Boston (*now closed) is no different. 
Well maybe its worse!  This is a pic from his instagram acct.  
I told you, get on instagram!! Follow him @pioneergoods 
and follow me @amymaisondecor
You get to see inside peeks at things like the latest stuff in our shops.
Look at how fabulous Justin's shop is these days.  Its getting better and better
and the guy is on a roll. He is on the covers of magazines and getting
featured and its all just been CRAZY!! I will be blogging all about his 
amazing retail ride soon with details and links to some of these happenings.

Speaking of instagram, here is Matthew Meads account. 
 Now this post of his is about his new magazine that
 is coming out in a couple of weeks,
The first issue will be March 3, then the issue I am going to be in will be
coming out in April!  He is coming over Friday to shoot my house!!
OMG all this snow, and the boots and hats and gloves and dog leads
and junk laying all around from fighting the blizzard will just have to 
get dealt with this week.  I have to get it together so it looks amazing!
 I know this post is very long...but I have to pack it all in because 
I will be busy this week with the anti-blizzard fight and cooking 
for cold and hungry troops, and decorating my home 
so it looks completely unreal, like real people cannot possibly
 live in such a beautiful space!! Lol.  
So this is a pic of my sister's chandelier that finally got 
hung over her table. Since the table was not in the center 
of the room the chandy had to get swagged~but hey, its more 
important to have it over the table and low enough to be dramatic. 
 I think it looks amazing!!
 Here is another shot of her room. We plan to paint the 
corner cabinet Old White.  And get a pair of upholstered end chairs 
to add some more personality to the room.  
And I wouldn't mind saying goodbye to that carpet.....
One "last but not least" mention.
Happy Birthday Taylor!
  Madison shared this pic (on instagram)
 of her holding her little sister and its completely adorable.
They are as close as any two can be....
and today is Taylor's 25th birthday!
And its Valentines Day! 
And it also happens to be National Organ Donor day!!
Really pretty amazing if you think about it.  
We have been blown away by the loving response for Tay.
Check her updates right here at Taylors Heart Fund.
She needs a new heart.  Lets hope she gets one soon.

Read more »