Well, friends, the best laid plans go awry.  I intended to show you our newly finished man-cave in this post, but my son absconded with my memory card for my camera and so I wasn’t able to photograph it.  But, I am going to make it up to you, I hope, by showing you a completed project that I did for my fabulous client in Switzerland.  So, here’s my promise.  I am not going to tease you with showing the project a bit at a time over several posts.  Instead, I will show you the befores and afters, with some commentary thrown in and in a later post or posts I will take you behind the scenes.

First, I must introduce my lovely client.  She has traveled and lived all over the world.  She was born and raised in St. Petersburg, attended college here in the U.S., moved to various locales in China, lived for a bit in London, and found herself in Zurich with her fiancee.  She found me through the blog, and although we initially did all of our work via Skype, in the end we met over a pair of Hickory Chairs in Chicago and spent a frenetic but fruitful few days in Zurich for the installation of the project.  This lady is seriously chic, absolutely gorgeous, and possessed of very distinctive style.  Coco Chanel would be envious so for this story I am going to call her Coco.

Here is the way that the apartment looked when Coco first contacted me. 

This was the living room.  Coco loved the wall color, her sofa, her armchairs, her Ming cabinets and her rug.  She had just purchased some of her furniture and the Ming cabinets are antiques. We had some great things to work with already.

The wall color is consistent throughout the apartment, as you can see.  Coco wanted to keep her window treatments as they are brand new, and the antique Chinese chairs and table were also must keeps on both of our lists.  Loved those gorgeous vintage parquet floors.

Here is Coco’s bedroom.  She wanted to add some color and interest to get away from the “hotel” look of the room.

My original design brief was to create a glamorous yet inviting living room for Coco and her fiancee.  Once that was accomplished, we were going to move into the study.  But as these things tend to go, the project began to creep into Coco’s bedroom and even small parts of her hallway, kitchen and dining room.  This is always great fun for me, as it means that my client and I are finding ourselves much on the same page and that they value me enough to ask for my input in other ways. But then…

I had finished my moodboards and floorplans, submitted my purchase orders and was ready to move full speed ahead on the living room when I got an e-mail which said, basically, that Coco and co. had spent their Christmas swapping the living room and study!!!  My response was “okayyyy….but we sort of have to start over!”  We didn’t really have to scrap everything – the Hickory Chairs remained- but pretty much everything else changed.  So, here is the new living room/former study….

I love the way that the light fills this room, and Coco’s instincts in swapping the darker, cozier room to the study were spot on.  The sofa, bookcase, rug and window treatments and art all were existing furnishings.  We added the armchairs, upholstered in a truly wonderful Clarence House fabric, the twig table from Arteriors, the Jonathon Adler tables that we completely transformed, custom made throw pillows and the white cowhide thrown atop the rug.  We also added lots of color and pop with various accessories.

This antique apothecary chest was already a charming component of the room.  We added the vintage mirror, the Circa lamp and the fun moss balls for color and shape.

This is a closeup of the lovely vignette we created with one of a pair of antique Chinese chairs.  The fretwork fabric echoed the Clarence House fabric, but in richer and deeper tones.  A vintage Tibetan drum is perched under the chair.

Here are some of the accessories that we used to style the bookcase.  Coco loves orange in every shade and so we worked hard to incorporate it where we could, while also adding some touches of green.  We were really thrilled with the way the room turned out.

Remember Coco’s old living room?  It became her study and this is the same view as the one in befores.  You can see that we paired the antique Ming cabinets on the wall with a pair of Ralph Lauren sconces by Circa, some luminous white ginger jars, and her existing Chinese scholar’s chairs.  Her English armchairs and sisal round out the mix.  We added pop and pizzazz with the fretwork fabric on the ottoman, heated up with a bright persimmon trim.  We also added a bright coral throw, and detailed the fretwork on the chair cushions in bright orange piping.  A vintage map of Paris hangs on the left wall and to the right you can see the Chinese wine table.  Out of view is the desk and the two chairs that allow Coco and co. to work side by side.

This is the salon style art wall that we created to hang above the wine table.  The creation of that wall is worthy of its own post!  We found all of the art through Lost Arts Salon and had it framed here at the Frame House.  We were thrilled with the results.

This is a closer view of the art wall, with the chairs cleared out of the way.  It is so sad that there is so much reflection on the art in the photo, but I have shots of individual pieces to share with you later.

This is a closeup of the vignette that we did.  Coco and I thought it a bit cheeky and fun to have a container full of calligraphy brushes below the art wall.  We planned the placement of the artwork around the height of this vignette.

Many apologies for the bright lighting in this, but that was the only way to get the photo.  We added some beautiful chartreuse and chocolate fabric pillows from Quadrille to the bed, hung existing pressed botanicals over the headboard and paired them with Circa sconces.  We styled the bedside tables with some lovely accessories which really added interest and character to the room.

I have more photos of this project to share with you – both the finished product, as well as the in progress shots- but we will get to those in another behind-the-scenes post.

I am so proud of this project.  Can you imagine that we did this via Skype, e-mail, spreadsheets and five million photos sent back and forth?  Every single new purchase was packed and shipped from here to Zurich.  Most importantly, Coco and co. are happy with all of the changes and are planning new projects down the road!!  More on Coco and her stylish salon later….





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It has been months since I have written a word here and for that I must apologize.  When last we met, I had just braved a flood in the basement, broken my hand and was heading into the holidays dusty, musty and banged up.  Our basement renovation turned out just as I had imagined it would be and I will post lots of photos for you in my next post.  But for this post,  I needed to write a little homage and a new chapter in The Story of a House.  Because, you see, we are selling out house….

There are many reasons that go into such a big decision, but the most important one that I will share with you is this.  Sometimes the most lovely, most comfortable, most congenial place can be constricting – to your way of life or to your family.  And so it became with our home.  When we built this house, it was with the expectation that our daughter Darcy would eventually move into a group home.  With all that transpired with her and her health over the last few years, it has become clear to us that we will never feel comfortable letting her live apart from us.  It is simply too risky.  But what has become obvious to us is that we need a live-in caregiver for Darcy, as she can never be left alone at a time when our family’s schedule grows ever more hectic and demanding.  And this is where the mismatch, the constriction, if you will, occurs.  We don’t have “quarters” for a caregiver in our home. The only way to add them would be to add even more square footage to a house that is already getting to be far too large for our crew who will all be leaving save Darcy.  Add to that the small detail that to add quarters would be at a fairly whopping expense.  We have mulled over this for a long time, and in the end we concluded that this beautiful house no longer fits our lifestyle and that we were adapting ourselves to it, rather than the other way around.

While we reached the decision thoughtfully, and even prayerfully, I never expected that getting the house ready to put on the market would be such a enormous undertaking and an emotionally draining task.  First came the flood in the basement and all of the renovation that took place as a result.  Then came the re-arranging of various rooms to show them to their best effect for potential buyers rather than for how we love to live in them.  My beloved chairs and antique aquarium that sat in my hallway were dispatched so that the hall would feel more open.  The family room was purged of my favorite writing table and chair in the corner – where I usually wrote this blog-as it made the room feel less open.  And our bedroom was rearranged for the umpteenth time to make it seem more spacious.  Countless things that our hands used to touch daily have been tucked away, doors that always used to hang ajar in welcome are now formally closed, and the feel of our house is just a bit less a home, somehow.

It was difficult, and frankly, depressing.  I don’t like to share my thoughts when I am not in a happy place, hence the extended silence here on my blog.  That and the fact that I simply didn’t feel I had the perfect words to describe what we were doing and why.  That old saying about the perfect being the enemy of the good definitely holds true in this case.

So, where will we go?  What will we do? We considered buying another home, smaller, with quarters attached.  We talked of renovating and redecorating.   We swore we would never build another house.  And yet.

And yet, that is exactly what we are going to do! We intend to stay in our current neighborhood and build another house.  It won’t surprise you at all, I think, to know that it is sketched out, that notes have been taken, that a folder on my laptop grows daily with inspiration images, that I prowl my own home now taking detail shots of features that I want to re-create in some way, and that architect and builder await our purchase of a lot before we are off to the races.

So what does that mean for this blog?  Well, I will certainly write about the new house as it comes into shape, let you see the images that are inspiring me, and take you behind the design process for me. Such fun!! But I will also post about my projects, about designers that inspire me, about gardens that mesmerize me, about products and resources that I find irresistible.

At my sister’s persistent urging, I have started a Pinterest account and in my next post I will hopefully have that icon up so you can see what I have on my boards there.

Well, goodness, I don’t know how many of you are still checking on this blog, but I am back and here to stay.  And most profoundly relieved to have gotten my big news off of my chest, off of my desk, and onto yours.



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With a Bang, not a Whimper…

January 3, 2012

Hi, My December turned out to be oh so exciting.  So, in my last post, I told you that my basement flooded.  Then, I broke my hand 4 days before we were expecting 70 people for a Christmas party.  Of course, I managed to break my hand in a way that only professional baseball players […]

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