Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer is Here and It Is All About Orange!

I'm not sure what it is but I'm in love with orange these days. Orange pillows, orange chairs, even duck a l'orange... If it's orange, I'm all over it. Perhaps it has to do with summer. Orange, to me, is just such a happy and inviting color and when paired with hues of blues.... well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Take a look at my living room....

(Photo by Sara Essex Bradley for the New York Times, April 7, 2011 issue).

Those orange (actually, they are more like "persimmon") silk pillows on my daybed were a recent addition and just tie the entire room together and add a "pop" of fresh color to an otherwise monotone room.

Now moving on to some of my more recent creations, these gorgeous pair of Neoclassical or Empire armchairs below with carved dolphins at the forefront of the arms and acanthus leaves on the back rest got a new life with this bright orange/gold silk damask upholstery. At first, I was a little nervous about trying something so bold and bright, especially when I did a gustavian grey finish on the chairs. But I adore how they turned out and I cannot tell you how many people were drawn into my shop simply by catching a glimpse of the chairs through the shop windows as they were strolling down Magazine Street.
(To view these chairs, please visit my 1stdibs storefront here).

And my latest addition to my orange craze, is this late 19th c. Petite Bergere (Louis XV) with cabriole legs, hand carvings and painted swedish gray on original antique frame. The upholstery is in a printed imported silk of orange leaves against a gold/yellow background and a soft, plump, down cushion.

Forgive the quality of photos as I just snapped them with my phone. But I just wanted to share this little jewel with you as soon as I was done with it. I just find this little chair simply irresistible and oh so beautiful!

So don't be afraid to go out and mix some orange in your summer decor. Sprinkle it sparingly throughout your house. You will find that it brightens up any corner of the room and can adds that "pop" of color you've been needing.

Have a wonderful evening wherever this post may find you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Time Flies When You Are in Love

Most of you know my story ... 13 year seasoned trial attorney turned designer/artist/mom. Well, I was actually a mom while I was still an attorney but that was the very reason I gave it up (or "it" gave me up). As a law partner in a mostly male dominated firm, working long days and billing every minute of the day, I was consumed by my work and I had little time for the personal side of my life. It took me a long time to get married and have kids. I joke that at 34, I was the oldest bride walking down the aisle (actually, down the front lawn and up the porch of my in-laws' c. 1850 New Orleans' Garden District home where I got married). Soon thereafter, I had Liam, my handsome son, at 36 (or just about 36) and Roma, my little girl, at 37. I remember asking my husband as I was 9 months pregnant with Liam, still doing the stairmaster at 5:30 a.m. daily, and making appearances in court weekly, "Do you think I'll love 'IT'?" This question really did weigh on me because I did not feel any of those maternal genes kicking in. It was like I was immune or oblivious to any type of maternal instinct. I just didn't feel it and frankly, I didn't even like children that much.

And then it happened. Whether I was ready for Liam or not, he came along. And from that moment on, I was hooked. Never mind anything else that may have come before Liam. I could not imagine, much less remember, what life had been pre-Liam and, shortly therafter, pre-Roma -- all of which, in a long about way, brings me to today's topic.....

As many of you who have school aged children may be experiencing whether this week or in the next weeks to come, school is about to let out for the summer. Today, was Liam and Roma's last day of 1stgrade and kindergarten, respectively. And can I tell you? I was sooooooooooooo upset and nostalgic. Another milestone in my life. The kids were running around today saying, "I'm now a 2nd grader" "I'm now a 1st grader!" And I'm thinking, "stop, just stop growing up so fast!!!" I want to savor every moment, every minute, every millisecond of their lives and no matter what I do, it just flies so fast!

Despite all of the challenges in life, despite all of the hardships (whether personal or financial), I have never been happier and more fulfilled in my life! I mean, does it get any better than this??????? I want to capture every day and I'm so afraid of time passing by. Remember that when you are in a rush to get here and there. These little events (like the last day of school) are just little reminders that time does not wait for anyone. So enjoy the moment, enjoy those little milestones! Carpe Diem (or Carpe Liam as I always tell myself!)!

Just a few summers ago, I was taking this photo.

Then it was off to pre-school (my mother's Montessori preschool)...

Hunting for Easter eggs together.....

And today, these two turned 2nd grader and 1stgrader.

Liam insisted on wearing his Harry Potter glasses and Roma was face painted by her kindergarten teacher.

They crack me up on a daily basis.

But most of all, they make me realize how amazingly fortunate I am to have these two crazy creatures to call my own.

Time certainly flies when you are in love.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend wherever this post finds you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

To Natalie in Italy

This morning (in fact, just a few minutes ago), I received a most touching phone call. I saw that on my caller ID was an international number so I assumed it was my friend Fran calling from Australia (Hi, Fran, hope all is well!!!). Much to my surprise, it was not Fran but a lovely, lovely woman calling me from Rome. She had by chance stumbled upon last month's article about me in the New York Times and had been deeply touched by it. She was particularly moved by the painting I did on painter's dropcloth which was featured as part of the story.

(Photo by Sara Essex Bradley for the New York Times)

I came to learn that her late father was a very talented artist who painted similar paintings on the same medium. She told me that upon reading my story and seeing the painting, something moved in her so much so that she felt the need to reach out and connect with me. She hesitated calling me at first and then took the plunge. We had a lovely, wonderful conversation and both she and I realized that although continents apart, we have a lot in common -- in particular, the love and influence of our fathers (both of whom also appear to have been very similar).

I want Natalie to know (if she happens to read this post and I hope she does!) that her phone call to me meant more than she can ever imagine. You have touched me by reaching out and telling me that I made a difference in your world somehow. I am honored to know that by reading my story and seeing my painting I brought you back memories of your father and in some way, touched you. That is what my art, this blog, and my work is about. All of your comments, phone calls and support (and I'm talking to everyone who may be reading my blog or sees my work online) mean the world to me and move me and inspire me to new heights.

Don't ever feel like you can't reach out whether to me or anyone else who may inspire you. You'll be surprised to know that everyone needs to feel connected in some way and to know that their life and work have meaning.

Natalie, please email me or call me anytime. I am honored and humbled that you reached out to me this morning.

Have a wonderful day/evening wherever this post finds you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nothing is Impossible - A Swedish Chest Recreated

Some months ago, I had a group of girlfriends come to the shop who were enjoying a "girls' trip" to New Orleans. They were from New Jersey and all of them lived within a block from each other. They ate and shopped their way through New Orleans and we all became fast friends.

One of them had been looking for a pair of Swedish style painted nightstands for her bedroom. She loved this pair that I had (and which was featured in Edward's and Bella's wedding cottage in the new Twilight: Breaking Dawn Movie).
However, after discussing the size of her master bedroom, we decided that they were way too small for her space. She had been hunting for the perfect pair for quite a while without any luck so I decided to take on the challenge of finding them. After she forwarded me photos of her magnificent and huge bedroom, I suggested that we go with a pair of matching chests for her nightstands. However, she did not want anything too tall as her bed was lower to the ground than mosts. After searching and searching, I found a photo (and I do not know where or how I came across this photo -- so if someone knows, please let me know) of a Swedish antique piece that I fell in love with. I sent her the photo of it and she thought it was perfect. What do you think?

Gorgeous, huh????

The problem was that although we had found the perfect photo, we needed the real piece, two identical ones at that, and in very specific custom sizes to fit her space (namely, 30" tall x 34" wide x 20" deep).

As many of you know by now, I love challenges and I love to make dreams become reality. So I put all of my resources to work. I was determine to make this happen and to make it happen in the most absolutely beautiful way I know how -- by personally overseeing the design and construction of the pieces, and hand painting and finishing them myself down to the last detail of the antique hardware. Of course, because of the smaller size of the matching nightstands, there were some design alterations involved (such as two drawers instead of three). But basically, the overall look was kept.

After weeks of planning and working, here is the result.

The original Swedish Commode ...

My recreated custom version:

What do you think?

Hope you are making your own dreams a reality.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beauty is all Around Me - Mixing of All Styles and Textures

What inspires you? Is there a certain look or style or mood?

Many people have asked me what my "style" is when decorating or picking out pieces for my inventory. Frankly, I can't really say that I have any particular style. I know beauty (at least in my mind) when I see it and it can take many different shapes, styles, and colors from French antiques, to mid-century modern, to swedish rococo -- well, you get the point. The tasteful mixing of all types of periods and styles is what, in my opinion, makes a room or home absolutely "timeless".

Every once in a while, I too need a jolt of inspiration. Many times, while the kids are at school and I take a break from painting or restoring antiques, you will find me buried under a pile of magazines or design books in a corner of my favorite Barnes and Noble store. I just love to be surrounded by inspiration. I look for it everywhere and when I've had my healthy dose of it, I go back to work on the floor of my kitchen where I've created or restored many a beautiful piece. Perhaps one day I'll have a large studio with large industrial type windows and work tables and lots of paints and brushes and photos pasted all over the exposed brick walls (can you tell I've been dreaming of such a studio?), but for now, my kitchen will do.

Today, I had such a day full of inspiration. I wanted to share with you some of those photos that just make my fingers tingle and my brain go on creative overload. You will see that it's a vast array of styles. But to me, the mixing of all that is beautiful -- down to a thread bare rug with the individual exposed vibrant colored threads is what makes me sigh......

I hope you were inspired! Have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Own Cinderella Story

As many of you know, I am inspired by everything around me, whether they be gowns (oooh, I love, love beautiful gowns), hats, fabrics, textures, paints...... When I see an object, I see its potential and like all of my furnishings, I take them from rags to riches. Or as my little daughter Roma likes to ask, "is that ugly chair going to the Ball too?"

I've been working on several projects and have been busy and away from my computer. Many of them are custom pieces that clients have specifically requested (maybe a certain finish or a certain piece that they've been searching for but haven't been able to find). This morning, I finished a couple of pieces that I'm in love with. Sometimes it is so hard to part with them!!! But here are the before and afters. What do you think? Are ready for the Grand Ball? Or maybe even a Royal Wedding?