Thursday, May 25, 2017

French Provincial cabinet doors solve a design dilemma


Using cabinet doors from a french provincial china cabinet for doors on our 
bookcases was a thought that struck me just this morning.  
Why had I never bothered to take a measurement and see if this would work? 
 But I am glad it finally did occur to me, as I have long wanted to hide the 
busy looking bookcases with shutters or custom doors.  
(Here is an old photo of the french provincial dining room cabinet.
This before it was painted white and lined with fabric.)
The perfect solution was under my nose all along....
my old china cabinet, now in an upstairs room, with it's four doors and wire 
grates for that extra frenchy look, and a fleur de lis linen sheer to hide the contents.
The living room bookshelves, sans doors.
This is the beauty shot that was just featured in Romantic Country magazine.
Fifi O'Neill styled it to look absolutely wonderful.
What you don't see is the entire bookcase view. Behind the chair are all the 
books that don't color coordinate with the room.  Forever and a day I have been
dreaming about adding hinged shutters to cover three of the shelves and leave the
top three open for pretty displays.  
 The big grey chair was moved into a bedroom, 
and in its place I put my writing desk.
After the desk moved into this spot, the bookcase was more annoying than ever.
If bookcases can be annoying, which I think they can, as many people write blog posts
and articles on how to style and arrange items on bookcases because they are annoying.
They look messy, busy, cluttered...and I had to agree.
This space looks so pretty, I am thrilled with the result, even if
the photo is lackluster.  Moving one thing, leads to moving another,
and that is how adding doors became paramount (in my mind).
I am still moving furniture and tweaking things, and its coming along
nicely.  So if you have a bookcase, or open shelving with in a framework,
consider recycling old cabinet doors and place them over the shelves using the same hinges.
  The hinges worked perfectly, but I had to reverse the direction of them.  
I also hinged the two doors together, so they don't open in the middle, 
the fold out to the sides, which is really nice.  So there you have it~
a rainy day project that has me quite pleased.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

No More Pink Curtains and a new video!


So its been awhile since I last posted, and that was all about the pink linen
curtain panels I made for the dining room. I apologize.
(Even my sister Ellen called me up and said,
"You need to blog because every time I go to look, all I see are pink curtains!!")
 Believe it or not, they only stayed up for 48 hours.
 I just couldn't stand how it looked.  The pink was 
way too pink... The light coming through the fabric made them even more
pink then they actually were.  And I never did buy a sample of the fabric to 
check to see if it was the right shade of pink.  I just kind of hoped it would
be similar to what it looked like on my computer monitor.  I should have known
better.  At any rate I now have 12 yards of pink linen which one day will be 
reincarnated into some divine project I am sure.  
And the grey curtains with the pom poms are back up!  
Bye bye pink.
A valiant try, but not for me.  My husband was agreeable,
which is kind of funny~he said they really brightened the room. 
(insert smily face)
My youngest son Colin detested them. And so did I.
In other news, we did have the baby shower for Justin and Madison
and I was able to use the courtyard for the first time entertaining a crowd!
When I renovated the backyard to create the courtyard, I had only a french
daybed and some chairs for seating.  This spring I ordered an all weather wicker
set of chairs, ottomans and loveseat from the Home Decorators Catalogue, which
is a Home Depot company.  The set was by Martha Stewart ( I love her as you know)
and after reading the many reviews, I ordered it sight unseen.  I was banking on 
the reviews of it being comfortable and well made, and I am happy to report it is both!
The set is called the Lake 
The Adela Lake Collection set by Martha Stewart. 
 It comes in a few finishes, and I chose the weathered grey color with the 
sand colored cushions, seen above.  It looks right at home in the rustic
courtyard.  We moved the set into position where the day bed, 
and the daybed was moved opposite the wicker set, so we can seat quite a few people now.
We still are working on setting everything up, like the bird house vent cover, 
which is not installed yet because we are still using the fireplace indoors on cool mornings.
Colby loves the courtyard too, and we attach him to a long green lead that
we anchor in various spots, controlling where he can hang around.  
We will be spending a lot of time outdoors in this space, and it was worth the expense.
When I ordered it online, one reviewer mentioned it sells out early in the season,
so I got my order in promptly.  A few weeks later it went on sale for 20% off,
and the HD people gave me a credit for the sale price, which was awesome.
It also comes in a pretty spa blue color, but I stayed neutral 
choosing to add accents with throw pillows in Sunbrella.  
Check out the video about the courtyard, featuring an introduction
to the space with Matthew Mead on photo shoot day for his magazine,
UPSTYLED HOME OUTDOORS. 
(tip: click on the right hand corner icon to 
enlarge for watching full screen)
(It's on news stands now, as a gentle
reminder, published by Country Sampler. )
After the intro, you will be treated to the nitty gritty makings of this space
showing you small video clips that I took while hubs and sons were helping me,
and which I never intended to go public with...but they worked out well in this 
montage video.  After all, I had no idea Matthew Mead would love this space so
much that he wanted to shoot it, nor did I think it would ever grace a magazine cover!
You will see the disgusting plywood "shed" (that was literally falling apart) as it
is hoisted through the air from my mother-in-laws back yard to ours (we are neighbors).
You get to see sweaty me, shingling the shed, my son wearing a farmers sun hat to avoid the
scorching temps,  the general average ugliness of the space and how it came to be so 
fabulous.  Its inspiring, even to me, and I did the dang thing!!


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Pink Linen Curtains for my French Dining Room

 Perhaps I have been swayed by the popularity of blush pink in interiors this year.
It is a color that is everywhere these days....
Pink is a color I have always been attracted to, and yet it can be a bit much
in "regular" rooms, often relegated to babies rooms or young girls.  Maybe since 
I have a grand daughter on the way, this desire for more pink in my own house
was too much to ignore.
 Whatever the reason, I ordered a bolt of pink Irish linen to create
a pair of panels for the dining room windows.  I rolled out 3 yard increments
on the dining room table for each of the four panels.  These would not be lined,
yet simply hung with a straight stitched rod pocket and hemline.
 A french console with a pink marble top that used to be in my shop's foyer was installed between the pair of windows, underneath the venetian mirror.  Its a nice narrow display space for flowers, dishes, candles or whatever I want to highlight.  The pink looks pretty with the purple transferware collection.  Harkens back to my seventh grade bedroom, which as done in pink and purple with French provincial canopy bed.  The set was a little girl's dream,
 and I was lucky enough to have one at the age of 12.  
 We eat dinner in this room every night as a family, and most often we dine on placemats instead of a table cloth, as placemats are easier to launder.  I made a set of pink toile placemats about twelve years ago and they have stood up so well over time and repeated washings.  Sewing can really come in handy when you want specific styles in draperies, pillows, placemats, napkins and the like.  Sewing gives me the ability to showoff my personal style, and I won't see it anywhere else.
 A pair of antique gilded candlesticks from my blogging friend Cindy at Edith + Evelyn Vintage's etsy shop grace the French console.  She has many french accessories in her online shop.
I traded the candlesticks for some of my purple transferware with Cindy, which was really fun.
I am looking forward to seeing my old plates gracing her beautiful French home on her blog.
 My centerpiece is an antique garden trug that Matthew Mead gifted me.
I placed a pink gardening shovel in the trug that I found on our trip to Long Island.  
The shovel was about the only pink thing for sale at the White Flower Farmhouse shop.
This room's redecoration is a nod to spring and summer, 
and the lightheartedness these months bring to our daily living.  
Looking forward to the French doors opening to the courtyard, white wine and soft
summer breezes.  Centerpieces will be made up with cuttings from the garden pink roses.  
The pink draperies will get changed back to the grey after Labor Day, 
but until then, we will be in full spring and summer mode, here at Maison Decor.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grey Gardens: A Haunting Real Life Riches to Rags Tale

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful mansion built in the Hamptons called Grey Gardens. 
Grey Gardens got its name from the cement garden walls, the color of the dunes and the sea mist.
Grey Gardens would become notorious for its eccentric mother and daughter inhabitants, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, after a series of twists and turns, brought them cult status and notoriety.
A reverse story of riches to rags with celebrity relatives always makes for a great tale.
A14 room shingle style Victorian home, Grey Gardens was designed by architect Joseph Greenleaf Thorp in 1897.  Acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Hill in 1913,  Mrs. Hill designed the lush gardens that were once considered to be one of the most beautiful private gardens, with a private cement walled garden room. The home was purchased by Edith Bouvier Beale in the1920s.  Edith was a Bouvier, the same Bouvier family as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and was an aunt to Jackie.  Edith's only daughter, little Edie, was Jackie's older cousin. 
Image: HBO
 They spent time together as family members, summering in East Hampton
 as the daughters of the rich and privileged Bouvier family.
In the HBO movie Jackie Onassis is seen in shock when she visits the house.  
She called upon her aunt Edie, after she heard the house was to be condemned.  
Together they enter the walled garden to sit outside, as the stench inside is too much to bear.
Their story is one I only just discovered on my trip to the Hamptons with Matthew Mead. 
 He asked me if I wanted to see the fabled, Grey Gardens? 
 How had I never heard of this story?
He told me about the odd mother and daughter duo who lived in this decaying home.  
The husband left the mother and his daughter, and they lived for years on a modest stipend. 
 After he died and the modest trust ran out, Big Edie refused to leave her
 "beautiful Grey Gardens".  I was hooked, yes I wanted to see Grey Gardens!
 For many years, Grey Gardens was lost in overgrown brush and vines from the outside, 
and on the inside it had suffered years of neglect compounded by cats 
and raccoons who shared the home with the Beales.
Animal and human waste overwhelmed the senses, yet it was common every day living by 1970.  No electricity or running water, a leaking roof and holes in the windows and roof took its toll.  Forced by the town in the fall of 1971 to get it cleaned up or demolished, Jackie Onassis paid for the
$32,000 cost of rehabbing it so it passed occupancy and escaped a wrecking ball,
 and was granted the condition that the two Edies could remain in their home. 
 The Beales were penniless.  
Their reversal of fortune had them selling off their Tiffany silver and jewelry to pay 
for food and other necessities as time went along.  But they seemingly remained cheerful.
Image: NY Daily News
Interestingly, the Beales lived there as if there was nothing to be ashamed of.
They had created their own little world inside Grey Gardens, and it was all that mattered.
In some respects many think that little Edie's mother abducted her and forced her to live with
her behind the closed doors of Grey Gardens.  They both were dramatic characters, as you watch them in their documentary film, filmed in 1973 by the Maysles brothers, and released in 1975.
Mother wanted to be a stage singer, and Little Edie wanted to be an actress or a dancer.
The documentary made them into cult heroines.
The audience seemed taken with the eccentric pair of women, who loved singing Broadway tunes,
and dancing around the house.  Watching cats pee behind Mrs. Beale's large oil portrait, was simply  incomprehensible yet irresistible to watch.  Much like watching a car wreck, one can't turn away.
(The Beales themselves loved the documentary, when shown to them in their home.
Big Edie refused the invitation to the movie premier in NY, but little Edie did attend.)
Image: Jim Mooney, NY Daily News, Getty Archives
Their world was one that was falling apart around them, 
they carried on as if the home was still the grand old dame of its heyday~
enjoying the daily routines they had created with each other, which included singing, and recalling 
the past and reminiscing, often opposing each other's versions of their storybook beginnings.
Many moments were filmed in this entryway of the home, with little Edie marching down
the staircase to a broadway tune, or big Edie carefully negotiating the steps with her cane all dressed up in her silk slippers and fancy dress as she came down from her bedroom to entertain family members for her 80th birthday party in the decrepit dining room.  The chairs were too dirty to sit on, so little Edie dutifully put down sheets of newspapers as cushions so everyone could sit. 
 It was surreal and unnerving to watch.
Fast forward, two years after the documentary:  Big Edie died after a fall in the house. Little Edie decided to sell the house, leaving all of the contents in place.  She simply walked away from her life with "mother darling" after accepting $220,000 from Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn, of the Washington Post.  The Bradlees restored the home to its former glory, much in part because of Sally's obsession to save it and restore it as historically as she was able.  Sally found a treasure trove in the attic and used the bits of wallpaper and fabrics and antiques to piece together the restoration. Recently Sally sold Grey Gardens for 20 Million dollars after the death of her husband.  I'd like to think she was the perfect owner, and enjoyed the time she spent living in the home of the two Edies.
Little Edie ended up living in an apartment in Florida, where she swam most every day,
until her death at age 84 from an apparent heart attack.  She did not want to be buried with her mother, and after cremation was memorialized with a marker in Long Island next to her brother's grave site at a different cemetary. 
Big Edie was buried in the Bouvier family plot in East Hampton, buried alongside 
 the family that for the most part turned their backs on her for her irreverent style and eccentric ways.
Big Edie's own father disinherited her after she appeared in an outlandish costume at her son's wedding, causing embarrassment for the family.  
Theirs was a complicated family storyline, and this house held many secrets.
 On this rainy and raw spring day, Matthew Mead and I slowly approached Grey Gardens, parked the car and took a stroll in front of the infamous Grey Gardens.  Despite the pouring rain, I wanted a closer look.  The wind was blowing in from the ocean grabbing at my umbrella.  I tried to imagine what it used to look like in it's state of disrepair.  The heavy gnarled limbs of brush out by the front of the road seemed original to the landscape, and perhaps were left in place as a nod to the Beales residency and the original plantings.  You can see more on our video at the bottom of the post.
 We walked along the front of the property to the other end of the circular drive. I headed towards the house just a bit, and Matthew mentioned the bay window on the second floor was what little Edie referred to as the "eye to the world".   I was intrigued, and planned to watch both the documentary and the 2009 HBO movie when I got back home.  There has always been an interest on my part of who originally lived in these grand old homes.  When I purchased an 1881 shingle style victorian, I researched the owner and even visited her grave to see what more I could glean, and to pay my respects.  This elegant old house with its crazy story had taken me in it's hold, I had to find out more! 
On the corner down from Martha Stewart's home in East Hampton on Lily Pond Lane, 
is where you will find Grey Gardens, at 3 West End Road. 
 It holds the memories of a bittersweet life. 

Watch the short video of my recent trip to Grey Gardens with Matthew Mead.
(Click the arrow in the center to play)
Image HBO
 If you want to delve more into the story of Grey Gardens, check out the HBO Movie, starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. I thought it was terrific.  Then watch the documentary by the Maysles brothers.  It will be hard to watch the real life film.  If you are anything like me, 
you won't be able to sleep for a few nights after watching.  
Grey Gardens is now a slight obsession, and 
perhaps with this blog post, you may find it just as fascinating...
 if you haven't already heard the story of the Beales and their beloved Grey Gardens.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Road trip to Long Island and the Hamptons with Matthew Mead

Road Trip!!
matthew mead and amy chalmers on the road
Matthew Mead and I just returned from a three day road trip to Long Island, NY, where he was
doing two shoots for his upcoming magazine for the fall, Upstyled Home, Industrial.  He invited
me along for the adventure, and we decided to do some video shoots of our trip and the people
and places that were on our itinerary.  We also decided to do some LIVE video, on Facebook, for
the first time, which is a new feature on FB that has you showing what you are doing in real time.
(Note:  The Facebook Live videos can still be watched on our FB pages, 
however you can't interact with us, which is what makes
 the Live part of the video experience so fun! 
You will see us talking to the people on the other side of the screen, 
who are typing in comments during the road trip, as it is filmed in real time.)
When Matthew and I get together we often have conversations about his early career, that I find particularly fascinating.  And so one of our FB Live videos was centered on his first trip to the Hamptons and how he came to be in this circle of visionary designers. 
 Matthew describes it briefly:
matthew mead uptsyled home magazine images

Now it would be my first trip to his career beginning stomping grounds, and what made it all the more sweet, was the opportunity to be staying at the iconic home of designer Tricia Foley.
designer tricia foley white dining room

Tricia's well loved white farmhouse in Long Island has been captured in the pages of  magazines, catalogues, and books. Tricia's personal style of white interiors is well known, and above is a quick
pic I took of her dining room when we arrived at her home.
 Martha Stewart has used Tricia's home and out buildings to shoot,
as has Ralph Lauren and many other notables.  
Gasp. 
Martha and Ralph.
martha stewart at her hamptons mansion
Image: Hamptons Magazine

Here is Martha in front of her "beach home" in East Hampton.
We would be doing a drive by and checking out her place on our last day in NY.
She looks amazing, doesn't she?  Would we get a chance to see her for ourselves?
Would she remember the day she invited Matthew to come here and meet with him?
That is one epic story that Matthew has shared on our Decorating Video channel.
Martha gave him a personal tour of this home!! 
Blows my mind when I think about that....anyway, we have a lot to share
 about our very fun trip. So look for a series of
posts with more from Long Island and the Hamptons!



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