Sunday, June 28, 2015

From Newport to Martha's Vineyard and a Best of Boston Award!

Its summer in New England! 
Nothing better than trips to the resort locations right
here in our own backyard.  Just last week I was in Newport finishing up a decorating job
capped off by a photo shoot with the talented Matthew Mead.  He graciously shared these
shots with me, so I could show them off here.  This will be my "pillow story".  All of the shots
taken were in a neutral backdrop, and it was up to the pillows and flowers to add the oomph.
 Designer pillow from HomeGoods (shhhh, no names allowed) was the perfect touch.
Most of the pillows have down inserts, and so many beautiful patterns and solids to choose from to make your room spring to life.
 My theme here in Newport was blue and white on a base of grey and tan. 
 Repeat the pillow colors with flowers and you have a winning combination.
 Hydrangeas are the best of summer flowers, and I have my own Endless Summer bush right on my front walkway at home.  These came from a florist and had huge mopheads. 
 Elsewhere in the house, I used one pillow to great effect.
 An overall white bed got a whimsical lift from this pretty birdcage pillow.  Out of camera shot was the artwork that repeated the colors in the pillow.  We used Downy wrinkle releaser (in a spray bottle from the grocery store) to make this bed as smooth as a baby's bottom without any ironing!  I use it all the time, after I was asked to review this product from the manufacturer on my blog.  It is amazing at getting out wrinkles, and after the shoot I think everyone who witnessed it became a convert.
But I digress...I am headed to Marthas Vineyard with my parents for a few days and along the way I will be stopping at my friend Sandra's house.  Its on Cape Cod and was featured in the DECORATING magazine with me this past month.  I cannot wait to step inside, and I will grab a few shots to share after the visit.  Then it is onto the ferry and a rare visit to my parent's home.  Looking forward to spending some quality time with them.  We just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at my home with a small dinner party.
We were kind of a skeleton crew, missing two siblings and two of my sons and my daughter in law, but we managed to have a very lovely evening out in the courtyard and around the dinner table.
I bought this art glass vase from HomeGoods for the Newport photo shoot, but the homeowner decided to pass on it.  Well instead of returning it I thought it might make the perfect gift for my parents in honor of their 60th.  It should look great on Marthas Vineyard with its watery color feel.  And no flowers needed either, just place it on a table or chest for dramatic impact.
Lastly, I am busting out at the seams about is that this morning Justin texted me and in his understated way sent me a link to this:
He won BEST OF BOSTON  in the Home Boutique category!! OMG!!!
 I am sooo proud of him and all his accomplishments. 
 If you haven't been to Pioneer Goods Co yet, maybe its time for a visit.
 Open Wednesday through Sunday,  its the perfect way to spend this rainy Sunday, don't you think?
He also has an online shop for those of you not in the Boston area:

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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.
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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. 
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Styling for HomeGoods : Part Three

 It was the day of the HomeGoods photoshoot.  The days leading up to it were filled with getting the look just right for various shots around the location house.  The photographer, Dan,  and his assistant arrived along with a swarm of others and everybody got down to business.  There were a few little details being ironed out to perfection, but most of the styling was completed and the scenes were ready to be shot.  Essentially this is how the day would go~the photog taking pics and then checking in his computer monitor to see how it looked, as the HG team looked on as well. My job was to make adjustments as the shoot was underway.  For example, move the creamer to the right....or lets try a different flower than the one we have now. 
 I will show you some before and afters, but I will tell you that my iPhone pics were NOTHING like what I was seeing on the photographers computer after he took his shots. NOTHING!!! Good photography is so inspiring and amazing, and I am always in awe of those who wield a camera with stunning results. 
The beginnings of a shot with some of the serving pieces...
And the final shot after adding food and getting it just right.
  The pretty carrot cake and pie and pastries all came from Whole Foods.
The serving pieces were all from HomeGoods.  I used silver and white and mixed in
some green desert dishes and coffee mugs that had a toile vibe to them. A very pretty pattern
using black white and grey on top of the green. That tied in our dinner table, and then to give it
a fall feel, I used orange sparingly in a flower bouquet and a carrot cake. A freshly baked apple pie
cut and served up on a plate gave it a lived in look.  I was afraid to cut into the pie as I am a bit of
a slob, and so I asked a food stylist if she would mind doing the honors.  (smile)
Tiered towers are so beautiful filled with deserts and are such a simple way to make
 your desert offerings stand out.  A white coffee pot looks both modern and traditional in stark white
sitting on a silver pedestal base.  Did you know the coffee pots are the tall ones and the short chubby pots are for tea?  
 The computer monitor allows the photographer to make adjustments as he shoots.  It also lets the team see what the finished result is right then and there.  Its super exciting to see it come to life through the lens of a good photographer, and Dan was the man who had it going on!
 Here he is capturing the front door scene that I styled for fall.  White lanterns
mixed with faux pumpkins and then that hay bale from my shed worked great to 
create an autumn scene.  The perfect candy corn blanket and a big full wreath 
finished the shot.  At the last minute I cut all the leaves off of a garland I had brought
from home.  It looked just like the trees were shedding their leaves in October. 
 The front entry of this house was lovely and by adding just a few touches, it was complete.
Dan instagrammed this pic of me styling a shot.  I had no idea he took it...probably checking for light or something, but then he surprised me by tagging me on Instagram @amymaisondecor.   I love how social networks work like this. So now I follow him and he is following me and you can see what each of us is up to when we check our instagram accounts.  That is a carefully half eaten donut on a plate with a cup of ((cold)) coffee in an adorable fox mug.  Oh, and yesterday I mentioned that I snuck a few pieces of my life into some of the shots~well look over my shoulder and a few of the photo frames contain pics from my family!  That is hubby and his brother's baby portrait. 
This shot of the table you might barely notice a little wooden squirrel sitting on the wooden pedestal that I used to elevate the candle hurricane.  My grandfather carved that squirrel.  I sat him on the table and when we started shooting, he was moved into position so Dan could capture him better.  He was a star!  I never met my grandfather as he had died before I was born, so this was kind of a neat tribute right before Fathers day.  We had a lot more shots, and I don't want to steal the thunder of when all of this comes out this fall, so I will leave it here.  I will share when they publish the finished shots, and I cannot wait to see how they look.  It was a wonderful experience styling shots for HomeGoods.  I shop there all the time (like today again for a Newport RI shoot coming up tomorrow for someone else) so it felt like a natural fit to work with them.  So call me when you need help HomeGoods!
I can't say enough good things about this company.  They are all lovely people.  Have you ever noticed how that happens.  Nice people hang around other nice people.
I went to bed with another job set for the morning. So much for closing the shop and being a homemaker.  The next day I headed to Newport Rhode Island with my old shop manager, Julia.  We were there to do some faux finishing on the mantel and bookcases, hang up draperies and style the place with a bunch of pillows from HomeGoods. 
And when we had finished on Sunday, this is where we left off.  Formerly all white, it looks so beautiful and the entire room has a much more sophisticated yet relaxed vibe.  I am loving this finish we did with Annie Sloan's French Linen and Old White.  The pillows were an important touch to the overall look of the room. It had the owners furnishings, which were all in neutrals, and all that I needed were some decorator accents in pillows. Well I will be back there tomorrow to do a shoot with Matthew Mead and I have a car load of HomeGoods accessories to set up! Like beautiful sconces for the mantel and other goodies.  
I styled the bookcase with HomeGoods pillows too!
Out of an old apple basket they spilled onto the top
of the built in, giving it a soft warm inviting look.  
All I need now is hurricanes on the mantle shelf.  The decor is minimal
and it gives a modern feel to a traditional layout.
The before picture...
And the after picture...well almost after. It will be finished as of tomorrow.
I will be back and show how we painted the built-ins to get that Restoration Hardware 
look if you want to give it a try yourself. I'll share how basic the editing was to get this
finished look.  Sometimes its more about what you DON"T use than what you do in decorating.
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Note: this post was partially sponsored by HomeGoods as part of my participation in their designer Pinterest board, Happy by Design. Click here to see tips and tricks from Designers using HomeGoods accessories and home furnishings.
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Styling for HomeGoods, Part Two

Part two of my story continues! 
 I left the location house that second day with the understanding that the dinner table vision I was working on needed to be tweaked with more color.  Of course I could remedy the situation, and in my mind's eye I saw the solution to be the centerpiece.  So my plan for the last day of styling would be to stop at the local Whole Foods and get the components for the centerpiece on my way to the location.    That night I formulated my plan to get the color into the table.  I would bring a few things from my home, then I would get the centerpiece materials and speed back to the house.  I thought I had a genius idea for the centerpiece! Wouldn't it be great to make a centerpiece using vegetables in purples and greens instead of flowers.  In a nod to harvest time, this unusual centerpiece would be beautiful and the wow factor.  I began thinking of all the different kinds of vegetables I would look for at Whole Foods.  Eggplants and artichokes,  kale and cabbages with purple were what I hoped to find. 
 When I left the house I grabbed a large antique silver tray along with a little stack of my beloved purple transferware desert dishes.  I had this idea that I would layer a transferware dish underneath the glass compote dish, and it would sit on top of the silver salad plate, which set on top of the grey stoneware dinner plate. There would be elements of wood in some sliced wooden pedestals and wooden serving pieces that would play nicely off the metallic silver dishes and flatware. Green pears were my choice to set inside the compote dishes, and little wooden tags strung with twine would be the place cards at each setting.  Above you can see the small stack of transferware and my silver tray, and in the lower left hand corner there is a package of Rosemary and some twine.  Imagine how pretty and "harvesty" it would be to have the vegetables on the platter and tiny candles lit all over the table.  Some classic white napkins with a sprig of Rosemary on the napkin underneath the twine and wooden name tags would be a nice rustic touch.  
Next stop was Whole Foods and everything went according to plan.  Well, maybe not completely~let me explain.  I found every vegetable, except no artichokes.  I wanted to try artichokes in the compote dishes, not pears.  But alas, they had none.  So I got 8 green pears, and much to my amazement, they had a bunch of purple cauliflower! Beautiful and bright purple, this cauliflower was a gift from the universe telling me that my vision was right on! Other winners in the veggie aisle were teeny tiny potatoes in taupe, beige and purple, brussels sprouts, rutabagas in white and purple, and wonderful ruffled edge kale with tinged purple leaves. I grabbed all of these and more.  But the not so great part was my  floral centerpiece idea.  There was a small florist stand, and I knew I wanted a floral centerpiece as a backup incase the vegetable thing fell flat.   Standing in the floral booth creating pretty looking cluster bouquets was a  jolly green giant kind of young guy.  I thought, I will kill two birds with one stone, and ask him to make up a centerpiece.  Everything around him appeared to be done so well!  I asked Jolly Green if he could create a centerpiece for me, and I happened to have a long wooden box container in my car.  Could he use that and fill it with the flowers I selected?  Yes, he said he could do that for me while I shopped for vegetables.  Yippee!! I would have two good centerpiece options when I rolled into the location.
I showed Jolly Green this instagram photo that I saved in my phone photo gallery.  This would be the idea for how I wanted him to assemble the flowers I selected, but they would be in a long wooden box.  I selected green roses, purple asters and an orangey-berry type sprig.  Explaining that this was for a photo shoot for fall, I wanted purple and autumn colors to enhance the dinner table I was creating.  Oh yes, he said....and off I went to gather my vegetables.  Well when I returned, what he showed me looked nothing like this image.  I can laugh now, but in reality~ I was mildly horrified.  Jolly Green had added pink peonies and big gold colored gerber daisies to the mix.  And he cut them all the same height and then stuck them in the box that was filled with florist foam I had given him.  All the stems were exposed, all the foam was exposed, and if you can imagine that it just looked like a crayola box that was opened with multi-colors on sticks marching in a straight line.  It was pretty awful.  Well, what was I to say? It was too late to do anything about his lack of florist skills. I asked him to give me a few more bunches of the purple asters and the berry bunches. If needed I could rearrange it all when I arrived to the location.  I loaded up the car and drove to the location house.  
Once there I took all the groceries and flowers into the butlers pantry that we were using as a staging area for the dining room.  This house was an old house and it had some beautiful features, one of which was this old zinc sink dropped into a wooden countertop.  Behind it was an old fashioned pantry for storing serving dishes.  I unpacked the vegetables and set to making the centerpiece.
 It came together as beautifully as I imagined it would.   I placed the small vintage transferware dishes under the glass compotes and plunked an organic pear inside for the green color. A tester sprig of rosemary was threaded underneath the napkin. Since my handwriting is atrocious, I asked my assistant to write up the place cards. I was in love with the result. 
 An ariel view shows the most amazing purple cauliflower and the tiny potatoes and the wonderful rutabagas, baby eggplants, brussel sprouts and fresh beets all set on a foundation of curly edged kale.
More things would be added to the table later, but this was all set up so that we could try switching out different elements until we got the look that was best.  
The decisions were made:  
Use the rosemary sprig, ditch the transferware, we used a purple compote dish that we had as backup.  Done.  The disastrous floral centerpiece was never reworked as the beautiful vegetable centerpiece told the story of a harvest dinner. 
The table would look like this moving forward.  
I was very happy with the way it presented, and I went home on a bit of a cloud.  
Fast forward to the next day of the photo shoot.
 This little shot above is from my iPhone taking in what the photographer shot, and how it appears on his computer monitor so the team can see what he is capturing. The colors read a bit more brilliant than they really were, but isn't it amazing?  Part three is coming up~the day of the shoot, as well as how I snuck bits of my personal life into a few of the shots.  Hey, a girls gotta have a keepsake memory of this exciting experience when all was said and done, right?  

Read Part One HERE

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